Barcelona 2-3 Real Madrid (Vinícius Júnior, Benzema & Valverde). Here is the immediate reaction to the Clásico win. Still to come: press conference details, player ratings and the ManagingMadrid podcast.
The Spanish SuperCup has arrived, continuing this new format of four teams playing through a semi-final in hope of lifting the trophy in the final. Debatably the worst thing about the new look competition was where it hosted. Riyadh in Saudi Arabia would be home to the latest version of el Clásico for a place in the final. Madrid’s line-up would be strong, with David Alaba missing out alongside Gareth Bale and Mariano Díaz. This must have been the first time in over a year that no Castilla player found a place on the bench. Karim Benzema captained the team for the big game.
The first half was eventful, with a lot of space being enjoyed by both sides. It had the feel of a pre-season exhibition, with some nice passes being sprayed coupled with some impressive touches, but little substance to the play. Madrid did take the most shots, with Marco Asensio sending multiple shots over the bar after good moves. The breakthrough did come from a breakaway, when Vinícius Júnior sped away after being set free by Benzema and punted the ball beyond Marc-André ter Stegen. Madrid looked comfortable, but Barcelona made it all square when Luuk De Jong finished off a scrappy move to make it 1-1 by half time. Madrid continued to look the better side in the second half, and should have been in-front when Benzema struck the post. It was the Frenchman who would give Madrid the advantage once again, forcing a great save from ter Stegen, before receiving the ball again for the tap-in with 18 minutes to go. Pedri almost made the pass for a tap-in, but he was in an offside position when he received the ball. The equaliser did come through an Ansu Fati header late on, meaning that we would be heading to extra time after 90 minutes.
The game looked like it was edging towards a Barcelona win, but Madrid managed to pull ahead once again when they found themselves with four players against two on the counter and the ball at Casemiro’s feet. He played in substitute Rodrygo Goes, who squared it towards Vinícius Júnior. The Brazilian jumped over the ball, fooling the committed defender and allowing Fede Valverde to slot home the third. The play remained fast paced, but chances were few and far despite some entertaining build up play. As energy started to drain, tackles became heavier. Both teams had one final go, but couldn’t finish through Pedri or Rodrygo respectively. The whistle blew seconds later to confirm the 3-2 win for Real Madrid! Another SuperCup final for Los Blancos... What do you make of that, then?