Real Madrid beat Atletico Madric on penalties to win the SuperCopa. Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, tactical review, post-game podcast, and much more.
Wednesday’s death lineup — the one that eviscerated Valencia — was kept in check by Atletico Madrid in the SuperCopa final.
Maybe in theory it’s more difficult to stop Zidane’s five midfielders that looked unstoppable against Valencia, but a quick glance at the scouting report from the semi-final will, at the very least, tell you some basic things to consider: Don’t sit deep and refuse to apply pressure on Casemiro and Kroos. What Celades did was sit in a low block, giving his team little-to-no chance to launch an attack without proper numbers, and he set his men up for relentless counter-pressing against a team in good position to regain possession constantly.
Diego Simeone didn’t make the same mistake that Celades (who made no adjustments as the game wore on) made. He knew that Real Madrid’s five midfielders couldn’t counter-press Atletico if they could prevent them from getting into the final third. Atletico pressed high, and while their press was loose at times (and Real Madrid didn’t take advantage of Casemiro and Isco’s open positioning in between the lines), they made Real Madrid cough up possession which led to two chances. Beyond that, Real Madrid’s build-up usually died before it got into anywhere where damage could be applied.
There were good spells of possession in the first half (and some of the second), to be sure. Modric finally started to move into the half-spaces towards the end of the first half which gave Real Madrid some options; and in the second half, Luka Jovic started getting more involved in the flow of the offense. Rodrygo’s entrance for Isco also provided some dynamism which the team didn’t have in the final third prior. Isco has a tendency to drop deep and take the ball off the foot of a ball-carrier, which eliminates himself as an outlet and the action itself comes off as redundant. Rodrygo was more prevalent around Atletico’s penalty area, and it was his through-ball to Jovic which ultimately led to Fede missing a sitter. Rodrygo was also a good ball-carrier in transition.
It was still hard to find space. A constant source of offense was Fede Valverde, who had a few brilliant moments, but ultimately may have had too much onus to create plays as a right winger when Saul, Lodi, and Joao Felix (who was at least pretty limited offensively) defended that flank well.
Defensively, Real Madrid were vulnerable in the left half-space between Mendy and Ramos. Angel Correa caused problems with his movement there, and Morata had one of the best chances in the game sneaking into that slot in the second half. Courtois came to the rescue.
After 90 minutes, the game still didn’t have a break through.
this game is death— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) January 12, 2020
- Vitolo brought Atleti some flair off the bench. He received a through-ball from Morata which Ramos helped close the angle for the shot, and Courtois parried away for a corner.
- Real Madrid had some sporadic spells of possession, but mostly U-shaped, and shots from long distance which didn’t test Oblak.
- Vinicius entered the field for Kroos. At that point, the game was in such an abysmal lull, I was excited to see someone like Vinny with fresh legs enter and hopefully inject something, anything, into this game. He got his pocket picked by Marcos Llorente on one sequence, and didn’t do much else otherwise.
- Courtois misjudged a corner kick, the ball fell to Morata, whose bicycle kick was saved by Courtois.
- The biggest Real Madrid chance came in the 110th minute, when Modric found Mariano on a through-ball. Mariano then cut it back to Modric, whose shot was saved by Oblak. The ball fell to Mariano again on the rebound — but his shot was saved by Oblak.
- In the 116th minute, after a series of freak bounces, Morata gets a breakaway. Just as he’s about to take his chance, Fede lunges in from behind and takes Morata’s legs out. Red card. It was ugly, but the right decision from Fede.
- Courtois was possessed. Came up big multiple times.
The penalty-shootout was completely dominated by Real Madrid. Courtois saved one penalty while Saul hit the post on another. Carvajal, Rodrygo, Modric, and Ramos all scored their penalties — eliminating the need for a fifth shooter.
We’ll break this down in much more detail on tonight’s podcast (end beyond).