Real Madrid marched onto the final of the Supercopa de Espana following a thriller of a game that ended 5-3 in favour of the best team in Madrid. We saw goals from Antonio Rudiger, Dani Carvajal, Ferland Mendy, Joselu (I guess?) and Brahim Diaz in a very entertaining game. Real Madrid will face either Osasuna or Barcelona in the final on Saturday.
Let’s get on with three small and swift observations from a fairly enticing game.
Antonio Rudiger may not be human
Look, when I say that, I mean that mainly in footballing terms. But also, slightly jokingly, I also mean it in human terms. This dude is so erratic and crazy, and it’s absolutely amazing to have a figure like that at Real Madrid. What makes it even funnier is that off the pitch, everyone talks about Rudiger as a very chill, funny guy.
Anyway, Rudiger is absolutely incredible. The way he has replaced Militao and become the leader of the backline so commandingly is a sight to behold.
Antonio Rudiger has been exceptional for Real Madrid this season. Didn't see this coming after the issues he had during his first few months in the club.— Lucas Navarrete (@LucasNavarreteM) January 10, 2024
He's established himself.
He is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best centre-back in the world. He’s made most, if not all, decisions right. The German, I would say, has this sort of “chaotic security” in his game, which is something Real Madrid haven’t had in a long time. He’s been awesome.
He’s been a leader on the pitch and has been keeping important players in his pockets since that matchup against Erling Haaland in the Champions League last season. Rudiger is too good. There are no ifs and buts about it. Best centre-back in the world. Argue with a tree.
It’s time Ancelotti corrects one of his only mistakes
Ancelotti, for the most part, has been spot-on this season. He has made a few minor mistakes and has had a couple of blips, and it mostly ends there. But, there is one thing that he hasn’t done correctly, and that is choosing his starting goalkeeper.
To be fair, Andriy Lunin, with his performances, has taken Ancelotti from saying, “Kepa is the main starter”, to “I don’t know who the starter is”, but really, it’s pretty clear who the starter should be: It’s Lunin.
I was not the biggest Lunin fan before this season, but in my opinion, he’s been one of Real Madrid’s most improved players and has yet to put in a bad shift in goal. He’s been more reliable, and, frankly, felt more secure in goal than Kepa Arrizabalaga
Arrizabalaga had a weird game vs Atletico. There were at least two goals where he probably could have done better. When Lunin is in goal, I just feel more confident and safe, no matter how good or average Kepa has been. With Lunin, it feels far less likely that something bad or weird is going to happen. It’s not even that Kepa has had some really bad games, it’s just that he’s had shaky games most of the time he has been in goal. The same can’t be said for Lunin.
Kepa has a good CV, he’s played well internationally, he has played for multiple big clubs, and he also seems like a genuinely nice person, but in strictly goalkeeping terms, there is no competition between him and Lunin this season. Lunin is by far the better choice, and Ancelotti should realise that sooner rather than later.
Thank God for Dani Carvajal’s dietician
Every Real Madrid player should take gluten out of their diet— Hridyam (@hridarora22) January 10, 2024
If you told me after the second leg of the Champions League Round-of-16 match against PSG that just two years after that, Dani Carvajal would start his “second peak” per se and that he’d be consistently dominant in every single game, I would probably have laughed at you and said there is no way in hell that’s happening.
Well, there was a way. Real Madrid players somehow always find a way to get back into form. That’s why they are the best.
It has happened in the recent past. Karim Benzema, a few years after a shocking season where he only scored 12 goals, won a frickin’ Ballon d’Or in his mid-30s after scoring 50 goals in a season. Another example: Luka Modric had, for his standards, a very subpar 2019, and since then, has stood the test of time, still going relatively strong at 38. And now, Carvajal is in the form of his life after a couple of seasons of poor injury record and, frankly, poor performances.
It is absolutely crazy and mind-numbing how many important crosses / assists Carvajal has had in big games in his career. Guy is just a walking clutch assist generator.— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) January 10, 2024
Carvajal is absolutely dominating the right flank, doing all the defensive work he is required to do at an unbelievable clip, but also going forward far more than he has in the last five years, getting crucial goals and assists. I mean, a goal and two assists in a Madrid Derby? Sign me up. Big game Carvajal is not someone to be messed with. Hell, I’d take this version of Carvajal over any right-back in the world right now. What a guy.