In the first match of the new season, Real Madrid lifted their first trophy of the new season. After goals from David Alaba and Karim Benzema saw Los Blancos defeat Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 in the UEFA Super Cup, it’s time for the first three answers and three questions piece of 2022/23. This is where we answer three of the pre-match doubts we had about Real Madrid and then pose three new questions resulting from the game.
1. Would Ancelotti stay true to his word and play the Champions League final line-up?
During the tour of the USA, Carlo Ancelotti repeatedly stated that his starting line-up for the UEFA Super Cup would be the same one that started the Champions League final against Liverpool, in order to “stay loyal to those that made this game possible”. Then, on the eve of the game, he tried to walk that a back a little, claiming he had a couple of doubts. So, what would the line-up be? Well, sure enough, it was identical to the Paris starting XI and, as they did then, Real Madrid lifted a European trophy.
2. How many minutes would Rüdiger and Tchouaméni play?
Once the starting XI was confirmed, thoughts turned to Antonio Rüdiger and Aurélien Tchouaméni and the matter of if and when they’d get off the bench. Fans are desperate to see the two new signings in action, and not just in pre-season friendlies. In this game, though, the two new arrivals only came on for the final few moments, both being introduced in the 85th minute. We can expect both Rüdiger and Tchouaméni to get a lot of minutes this season, but Ancelotti clearly wanted to prioritise last season’s Champions League winners in this match.
3. Would Benzema overtake Raúl?
Karim Benzema finished 2021/22 level with Raúl on 323 Real Madrid goals. It was only going to be a matter of time for the Frenchman to overtake the Spaniard and become the outright second top goalscorer in Real Madrid history. In this game, he secured the goal to achieve this, hitting his 324th Real Madrid goal through Kevin Trapp, before going on to lift his first trophy as club captain.
1. Can Benzema catch Cristiano Ronaldo’s 451 goals?
Sticking with the subject of Benzema’s goal tally, will he be able to become the all-time top scorer by catching Cristiano Ronaldo? This is a huge ask, as the Portuguese currently has 127 more than the current Real Madrid No.9. He scored 44 goals last season, which will be tough to repeat, but if Benzema stays at the Bernabéu for a few more years, it’s not impossible. Even if he eventually becomes a backup at the age of 37 or 38, Benzema will surely keep putting the ball in the back of the net. What do you think? Do you think 451 goals is possible?
2. Are we going to see more pre-rehearsed moves from kick-offs?
Remember in the friendly against Juventus when Real Madrid worked a really nice routine from the opening kick-off, which ended in a goal on 10 seconds from Benzema that was ruled out for an offside along the way? Well, at the start of the second half in Helsinki it seemed as though Real Madrid were trying out another pre-rehearsed routine. The ball was played from the centre circle to Éder Militão, who stopped it and left it for David Alaba to try to pick out one of the several runners in the right-hand side of the opposition half. The ball fell to an Eintracht player and came to nothing, but body language and the way the piece of play unfolded made it looked scripted. I wonder if we’ll see more of these kind of set piece moves from kick-offs this season.
3. Is this going to be another season of weekly supersaves from Courtois?
Although Real Madrid were the far better side and won by a comfortable 2-0 scoreline, Thibaut Courtois did have to intervene at the start of this game to keep the scores level, doing especially well to deny Daichi Kamada. Liverpool’s forwards know how that feels, as Courtois finished last year as the MVP of the Champions League final. While it was Casemiro who won the MVP in this game, Courtois was decisive once more and it seems like he is ready for another stellar campaign. We got used to seeing the Belgian produce at least one out-of-this-world save every week last season. Will that be the case again in 2022/23?