A short-handed Real Madrid, in front of an underwhelming number of people at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, completely dismantled and cooked Valencia in the Spanish SuperCopa tonight.
And perhaps Zinedine Zidane stumbled onto something in today’s game. While he lacked Karim Benzema, Eden Hazard, and Gareth Bale; he also had an opportunity to plug the midfield with four of his prized midfielders.
Real Madrid XI: Courtois, Carvajal, Ramos(C), Varane, Mendy, Casemiro, Kroos, Valverde, Modrić, Isco & Jović.— Managing Madrid (@managingmadrid) January 8, 2020
Bench: Areola, Militão, Marcelo, James Rodríguez, Rodrygo Goes, Vinicíus Júnior, Mariano Díaz.#MMLive pic.twitter.com/KnFQj8Yq3r
As I noted at half-time on Twitter, I generally enjoy when Zidane rolls out a scheme with more than three central midfield generals. It allows for two things: An plentiful amount of outlets during build-up; and numbers in midfield to counter-press. Valencia were helpless tonight trying to plug holes or escaping their half. Anytime they stumbled upon the ball when Real Madrid lost it, Zidane’s midfield swarmed Valencia and retained possession.
Albert Celades did little to combat this. Valencia were surprisingly tame considering they are a team that historically chugs Michael’s Secret Stuff before they play Real — one of their most hated rivals. Their first real spell of possession came after 10 minutes, and it lasted about 30 seconds — backwards passing to Domenech before losing the ball on a desperate long ball. They treaded water all night.
There weren’t any pure wingers in the line-up tonight for Real Madrid. Instead, Ferland Mendy and Dani Carvajal pushed to give the team width, and had little concern about getting caught. The counter-press was efficient, and Kroos and Casemiro were deep enough to help Ramos and Varane with coverage when needed. The midfield was unsurprisingly asymmetrical. Fede Valverde and Luke Modric spent a lot of time on the right flank, while Isco roamed in a free-roaming role. They all played well.
This was a demolition. It could’ve been more than three goals, it could’ve been less — in the end it didn’t matter much one way or another because this game was about controlling the tempo and defending high up the pitch. Zidane was able to do this through ball domination and counter-pressing. Real Madrid killed Valencia tonight.
Let’s go through the goals really quick:
TONI KROOS... CORNER TAKEN QUICKLY... GOALLLLL. pic.twitter.com/sO6RlknyV4— fan account. (@TotalCristiano) January 8, 2020
I don't care how open the net is -- that's just ridiculous from Kroos to turn on a dime and curl that in from that angle.— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) January 8, 2020
ISCO GOAL REAL MADRID 2-0 FOLLOW FOR LIVE GOALS pic.twitter.com/oJjTc74kko— HD GOALS LIVE (@HDGoalsLive) January 8, 2020
Esto es una auténtica genialidad.— Bárbara Quesada (@barbaraquesadav) January 8, 2020
Don Luka Modric.
Modric outside of the boot passes will no longer cut it for me. I demand outside of the boot goals.— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) January 8, 2020
We’ll break this down in much more detail in the coming hours, and discuss at length the individual performances on tonight’s post-game podcast. Make sure you’re a Patron to get access.