Real Madrid have their hands on a joint-record fifth UEFA Super Cup after a 2-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in Helsinki. It was Los Blancos’ first victory in the competition over a German side.
Real Madrid secured the title thanks to goals from David Alaba courtesy of a composed header, and some slack Kevin Trapp goalkeeping which allowed Benzema’s effort to squeeze and squirm in for a landmark goal.
The end result gives Carlo Ancelotti his fourth title since returning to the club last summer, and his eighth in total across both spells in the Spanish capital. This display against Oliver Glasner’s Eintracht Frankfurt was arguably one of his best displays of squad management yet, without ever needing to up the intensity to match that of the big occasion.
Here are the three key stats to understand the tie:
No team has ever before repeated the same line-up as the European final in a Super Cup game in the single-match format
Carlo Ancelotti gambled by selecting the same XI that won him the Champions League in Paris. He was clear for weeks in the build-up that he would stick with the same players that took him to Helsinki, and he did just that by repeating the same side in the Super Cup final.
With two new arrivals in Aurelién Tchouaméni and Antonio Rüdiger, Ancelotti instead opted for the same side with David Alaba and Éder Militão in defence and Casemiro starting in midfield.
It was an intriguing choice, as much about Carlo Ancelotti’s man management was about tactical preferences. In following this route, he gave a major vote of confidence to players like Ferland Mendy, who lived up to the occasion with a strong display.
Fringe players and new arrivals got their chance late on, with the likes of Dani Ceballos, so often slated as the team’s seventh-choice midfielder and pictured as a frustrated talent by many, getting an opportunity to shine on the biggest stage.
It was evident that for Ancelotti this match was a continuation of the 2021/22 campaign, but also preparation for 2022/23. He wanted to give his players a chance to prove themselves again, and they did just that by securing the result and allowing Ancelotti to make those rotations late on.
324 -- Karim Benzema overtakes Raúl as Real Madrid’s second-highest ever goalscorer
Benzema led the way, becoming the club’s second-highest goalscorer of all time by converting the team’s second goal to overtake Raúl’s tally of 323 strikes for the club.
A perhaps fortunate goal reflected the confidence that has grown in his game in recent years and it reflected his status within the squad. That’s why so many Madridistas would have been delighted to see him lift the Super Cup trophy as club captain officially lifting a title for the first time in Helsinki.
Only Cristiano Ronaldo, the man who benefitted from 47 assists from Benzema, has scored more for the club. 127 goals ahead, it does seem unlikely that Benzema will be able to catch the Portuguese, but this was a fitting occasion for Benzema to officially become the runner-up. It was capped by the fact that Benzema went on to lift his first trophy as the club’s official captain, having deputised for Marcelo last season.
Yet, also, at the same time, this game showed that there is a future beyond the brilliance of Benzema. If Real Madrid fans have been worried about attacking potency, this game will have eased those nerves. From 10 shots in total, seven were on target. Benzema wasn’t the only one to get involved either.
Vinícius managed three attempts, Fede Valverde another two, and even Casemiro got in on the act with two shots. Easing that pressure on the Frenchman could be key this season. As he celebrates his 35th birthday, Benzema cannot be expected to carry the vast majority of the goalscoring responsibility as he was last season.
The wealth of attacking talent, which saw the likes of Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard, both fantastic goalscorers in their prime, remain in awe as they stayed on the substitutes’ bench as Rodrygo Goes was given the nod as the sole attacking reinforcement.
6 -- Casemiro completed the most tackles of any player
It’s been a period of pressure on the Brazilian, with more media pressure on him than at perhaps any time since he established himself in the first team under Zinedine Zidane in 2016.
The outstanding form of new arrival Tchaouméni and youngster Eduardo Camavinga in pre-season meant that they have been a hot topic of debate as potential options for Ancelotti this season. Maybe even time to look to the future and give Casemiro more of a rest? But the number 14 showed exactly why it’s too soon to be having any such conversations.
Not only did he register the most tackles, but also a match-leading 10 recoveries. Casemiro did the hard work in Helsinki, and while Tchouaméni and Camavinga provide the excitement of potential, he underlined the importance of his experience. His vision and presence on the big stage is second to none, just as Toni Kroos and Luka Modrić seemed to be treating this game like a pre-season warm-up.
The Brazilian read the game superbly and prevented attacks from developing, offering a frontier of protection in front of the defensive line which Eintracht simply could not break through. It was what proved to be decisive in the key moments where the Germans started to apply the pressure and Casemiro could maintain his concentration and fitness.
In attack too, Casemiro provided the assist for David Alaba’s opening goal with a smart header cutting back inside from the far post. This was a fine all-round performance which demonstrated not only talent, but leadership, from Casemiro.