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Three answers and three questions from Real Madrid’s shootout win vs Valencia

Some of the talking points from the Super Cup semi-final win.


It took a penalty shootout, but Real Madrid were eventually able to overcome Valencia and reach yet another Spanish Super Cup final. We had several questions before this semi-final and even more after it, so let’s dive in to some of the main talking points.

Three answers

1. Who’d start at full-back for Real Madrid, and would it be a problem again?

One of the main problems with Real Madrid’s performance against Villarreal at the weekend was the full-back position, so it was obviously a major concern that neither Dani Carvajal nor Ferland Mendy were fit enough to start this game. With Álvaro Odriozola injured too, and makeshift left-back David Alaba as well, there were literally zero natural full-backs available to start for Real Madrid, who had to begin with converted right-back Lucas Vázquez on the right and centre-back Nacho on the left. Weirdly enough, though, an injury to Lucas and then a concussion to Éder Militão – which we’ll discuss in more detail below – saw the usual full-back starters come on despite not being fully fit, with Carvajal replacing Lucas and playing 53 minutes and with Mendy, who played 47 total minutes, replacing Militão to put Nacho at centre-back. But, there was virtually zero good full-back play from Real Madrid all night and that’s part of the reason they struggled to break this Valencia side down. Let’s hope the full-backs, both the starters and backups, get fit again soon.

2. Would Ancelotti’s penalty theory be tested?

To say we were thinking about the prospect of a penalty shootout ahead of this match might sound like some retrospective engineering, but it’s true that it came up during Carlo Ancelotti’s pre-match press conference. The Italian was asked if the team had been practicing spot kicks, and openly admitted they hadn’t. “We don’t train penalties much, as it’s impossible to replicate the real life atmosphere of an important penalty in training,” he said. That was the opposite theory to Luis Enrique, who famously asked each Spain player to arrive at the World Cup with 1,000 penalties practiced in training. Ancelotti’s approach worked better, as Benzema, Modrić, Kroos and Asensio scored all four of Real Madrid’s spot kicks vs Valencia, whereas Luis Enrique’s Spain missed all of their attempts in their shootout loss to Morocco.

3. Would Ancelotti and Gattuso have a handshake?

There was actually some personal drama in the pre-match press conferences, as Ancelotti revealed that he and Gennaro Gattuso, his former midfield general from AC Milan, no longer have a relationship. This is because of the way the younger coach took Ancelotti’s job at Napoli, with the veteran stating in his pre-match press conference that: “Relationships don’t always stay good and we’ve had some personal problems, but I don’t want to talk about those.” So, how bad did this relationship get? Would it be so bad that there would be no pre-match handshake? Well, in the end, there was a greeting before the game, but is was so much colder than you’d expect from two men who spent eight years together at the San Siro.

Three questions

1. Will Camavinga ever finish a Real Madrid match again?

This game and this whole tournament was set up for Eduardo Camavinga to seize the opportunity. With Aurélien Tchouaméni out and with the veteran midfielders needing some rest, Camavinga was given a start here. But, once again the Frenchman didn’t look comfortable as a starter and he picked up an early booking and then made another poor challenge towards the end of the first half while already on that yellow card. At half time, he was logically taken off. Don’t let the ice pack he then appeared with fool you, Ancelotti wasn’t trusting Camavinga to finish the game, something that has happened so often during his starts. Since Camavinga’s arrival at Real Madrid, he has only completed the full game in nine of the 81 matches the team has played. That is seven percent. He has started 25 times, but been substituted in 16 of them and on exactly half of those 16 occasions, he was taken off with a yellow card to his name. This is something he must improve on.

2. Why was Militão allowed to play on with one of the most obvious concussions?

There are moments when you think football is getting better at dealing with concussions sensibly and correctly, and then there are nights like tonight. It was the 54th minute when Éder Militão took a ball to the face, one which clearly left him shook, but it wasn’t until the 74th minute that he was substituted off. Given the way he was looking in the game, and his dazed look on the bench once he was finally removed, this tardiness in reaction was, quite frankly, inexcusable.

3. How difficult will the rematch be on February 2nd?

This was the first Real Madrid vs Valencia of the season, but there’s a rematch right around the corner. On February 2nd, Real Madrid will host Valencia in LaLiga on a Thursday night and that’s going to be a tough one too. If Valencia play as well as they did here, with a ridiculously impressive André Almeida running the show from midfield, and if they show up at the Bernabéu like that have so often in the past, watch out.

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