It wasn’t pretty, but Real Madrid came out on top and won the inaugural four-team Spanish Supercup. As well as the silverware that Los Blancos will take back to Spain, there were several lessons to come out of this match and we look at the questions that were answered and the questions that will need answering here.
1. Would the five-man midfield work again?
Zinedine Zidane’s tactic of deploying a five-man midfield worked to perfection against Valencia on Wednesday night. Passing records were set for the season in that game against Valencia, but those numbers were all down in this one as Atlético Madrid proved more difficult to pass around and as Real Madrid failed to find Isco as much. As such, the five-man midfield was scrapped at the hour mark as Isco made way for Rodrygo, while it became a classic 4-3-3 in extra time as Vinícius came on for Toni Kroos.
2. Could Jović capitalise on Benzema’s absence?
I don’t want to pick on Luka Jović. I really don’t. But this tournament was his golden opportunity to impress and he returns to Spain with his reputation significantly damaged. For once, Jović wasn’t asked to play in a front two. For once, Jović wasn’t just given the final 10 minutes. Instead, he was the starter up top as a natural centre-forward and he still couldn’t make the most of this opportunity. In terms of chances, he had at least one really good chance in each match, yet he couldn’t get the goal he so desperately wanted.
3. Would it be a full year without Real Madrid scoring a direct freekick?
Yes. The last time Real Madrid scored direct from a freekick was Dani Ceballos’ effort against Real Betis on January 13th of last year. The fact that no direct freekick was scored in this Supercup de España final means that Monday will mark the one-year anniversary of that Ceballos goal and it means Real Madrid have had an entire calendar year without a direct freekick goal. Luckily, any tears over this stat can be wiped away with the ribbons of the Supercup trophy.
1. How significant will Fede Valverde’s suspension prove to be?
Fede Valverde had to do it. He simply had to take down Álvaro Morata to keep Real Madrid in the game, even if it meant accepting a red card. It worked on Sunday night in terms of winning the Supercup, however that decision could prove costly in LaLiga. The new format of the Supercup came with new rules and suspensions in this competition now carry over into the league and the Copa del Rey. This means that Valverde will miss next Saturday’s league game at home to Sevilla, which will be a massive blow considering Sevilla’s strength is in the middle of the pitch. Valverde could even miss further matches given that his red card was a direct one. That one moment of glory could end up having a hefty price tag.
2. When will Ramos and Marcelo catch Gento?
It’s not a matter of ‘if’, it’s a matter of ‘when’. Sergio Ramos and Marcelo are going to catch Paco Gento, who currently leads the way with the most winner medals in Real Madrid history. Gento finished his career with 23 titles at Real Madrid and Ramos and Marcelo have just earned their 21st by winning this Supercup de España. So, when will they match Gento? Or even overtake him? With three trophies still up for grabs this season, it could be before the summer. Or perhaps in the first half of next season if Real Madrid win a title this year and enter into a Supercup next campaign. “I’m two trophies behind the player with the most in history and let’s hope I can do it,” Ramos said of the challenge after Sunday’s final.
3. Will Real Madrid and Atlético always go to extra time in finals?
Madrid derbies are always intense, but they’re rarely the most entertaining of football matches. Even more so in finals. Since Diego Simeone took over at Atleti, there have been five finals between these two clubs and they’ve all gone to extra time. It was the case when Atlético won in extra time in the 2013 Copa del Rey final, when Real Madrid won in extra time in the 2014 Champions League final, when Real Madrid won on penalties in the 2016 Champions League final and when Atlético won in extra time in the 2018 UEFA Super Cup. Once again on Sunday night it went to extra time after a poor 90 minutes. If these two teams meet again in a final in the near future, can we get a good match and one decided in 90 minutes?