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Immediate Reaction: Real Madrid 1 - Athletic Bilbao 2, 2021 Spanish Super Cup

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A disappointing draw at El Sadar is followed up with a loss in the Spanish Super Cup to Marcelino’s Athletic Bilbao

Real Madrid v Athletic Club - Supercopa de Espana Semi Final Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Real Madrid have crashed out of the Spanish Super Cup thanks to two goals from Raul Garcia. Much of the anticipation leading into the game was to see whether or not Zidane would try to experiment with different formations or personnel like he did last season with the five-man midfield. There would be no experiments nor any change in Zidane’s team sheet — it was an identical XI from the team that played against Osasuna and nearly the same team that has played the last nine matches in a row.

The opening 45 minutes, saw an up and down affair. Athletic Bilbao pressed high up the pitch, impeding Madrid’s ability to build of the back. The front three of Hazard, Benzema, and Asensio were fluid in their movements and in their positioning on the pitch. Hazard often received the ball in central spots or on the right wing, while Asensio played predominantly on the left. But given Athletics’ intensity and press, Madrid struggled to find the attacking trident and instead conceded thanks to two individual errors from Lucas Vazquez playing at right back. The first goal saw Lucas give the ball directly to Muniain within 10 yards of Madrid’s box, and the second saw Vazquez give away a soft penalty on Ignio Martinez due to poor body positioning. Just before the halftime whistle, Athletic Bilbao nearly scored a third after Inaki Williams burst through on a 1 v 1, only for Courtois to come up big with a crucial save.

The only change from Zidane at the half was due to injury — Nacho replaced Rafa Varane, who had felt discomfort. The second half would be played in a similar vein to the first with chances being created for both sides. Iker Muniain saw a diving header just go wide, nearly putting Athletic up 3-0. Madrid’s best opportunities for turning the game around all stemmed from Marco Asensio. Positioned strictly on the right flank in the second half, Asensio had a total of four shots including one shot that hit the post and another that hit the crossbar. All of that peppering of Unai Simon’s net would finally pay off as Benzema scored Madrid’s first after Casemiro re-directed his header back across goal.

Zidane only drew on two substitutions, calling Vinicius JR and Fede Valverde to step in for Luka Modric and Eden Hazard. Despite the changes, the most influential attacker for Madrid was Asensio, who marauded all across the pitch. The former Mallorca man always looked like the one most likely to make something happen. The final ten minutes saw Real Madrid relentlessly attack, in search of the equalizer. Both Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos had goals that were disallowed. Benzema, was deemed offsides, while Ramos was called for a foul when contesting a header in the box.

Despite six minutes of injury time, and a Mariano substitution, the equalizing goal never materialized. The 2020/2021 season continues to be marred by inconsistent results as tonight’s loss follows up on the back of a poor draw with Osasuna. We will break this game down further with player ratings, post-match quotes, and the usual post-game pod over on Patreon.