Real Madrid beat Manchester United 2-1 in Macedonia last night to clinch the UEFA Super Cup for the fourth time
When the UEFA Champions League winners met the UEFA Europa League winners, sparks did fly as an eventful match took place in Macedonia. Despite registering a win over Real Madrid during a pre-season friendly earlier, Manchester United fell short and lost out on the trophy to the Spanish giants.
Jose Mourinho has managed to rebuild the squad to an extent by adding three new faces this summer. But, it was not enough against Europe’s best side. Having said that, the Red Devils did put up a strong show to curb Real but, in the end, Zinedine Zidane’s men emerged as the better side.
Casemiro was the first one to score a goal and Real Madrid were one up in the first-half, following which Isco added another goal. United did have certain strong moments and hit back when Romelu Lukaku scored a stunning goal but they failed to level the score after that. THT takes a look at five talking points of the colossal encounter.
Zinedine Zidane and the dawn of new-age Galacticos
Real Madrid is one side that has managed to evolve in the best way possible under Zinedine Zidane. They have managed to best the top clubs in Europe and have also won every possible trophy so far. Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Chelsea seem to be way behind when compared to Real.
Isco, Casemiro, Kroos, Ramos – all these players have managed to carve a spot for themselves in the club. Under Zidane’s guidance, these new heroes are truly taking Los Blancos to heights one can only dream of, and their importance was quite evident in last night’s game.
Within 24 minutes last night, Real extended their astounding scoring streak to 66 games across competitions, scoring a mammoth 183 goals in the process. The Spanish side were easily the better squad and all this when their star striker Cristiano Ronaldo was not on the field.
More often than not, clubs perform well in one tournament but fail to maintain that consistency when it comes to other major competitions. Zidane’s men have turned it around by putting up the strongest performances at all times. Consistency and fluidity seems to be key for the new-age Real Madrid side.
Casemiro – Real Madrid’s key to success?
Casemiro continues to be one of the most underrated players in the world of football. Despite being effective on several occasions, the midfielder has never received the amount of recognition and accolades he truly deserves. Yet, he is an important factor when it comes to Real Madrid’s fortunes since he provides a lot of fluidity to the squad.
Interestingly, Zidane deployed Casemiro ahead of Kroos and Modric in the first half. However, the Brazilian did not look out of place at any point and was quite lethal with some clever driving runs up front. His opening goal was the perfect way to prove that he is vital to Real’s success.
In the second half though, Casemiro went back to playing in his normal position. He did his duty diligently as he prevented Rashford from sending Lukaku clear on a goal, timing an interception perfectly to restrict the duo. Even when United dominated certain points in the second half, Casemiro remained calm and fought off the United attack.
Jose Mourinho made the right choice to sign Nemanja Matic
When reports emerged of Manchester United making a move to sign Nemanja Matic, fans remained divided on how that move would benefit the club. The Serbian laid all those doubts to rest last night as he produced a splendid performance in the heart of the United midfield.
Its hardly been two weeks since Matic joined the Red Devils and yet he looked comfortable in front of their back four. Matic was a solid presence throughout the game. In fact, Real might have enjoyed a greater goal margin if Matic was absent.
Matic was quite impressive in orchestrating counter-attacking moments for United as well. He created two scoring opportunities for his team-mates, and the Serb also contributed to the surge which led to Lukaku’s goal. If he can manage to continue this form in the new Premier League season, United will certainly benefit.
Jose Mourinho’s defensive strategies did not work this time
The Portuguese manager has always been known as a tactical magician for his work but in last night’s game, Zidane cleverly out-classed Mourinho. When United started with a defensive block against Ajax in the Europa League final, it worked brilliantly since United’s experience helped them win the game.
It was a completely different ball game with Real Madrid though. Zidane started with a diamond formation, thus ensuring Real dominated the wings for a good majority of the game. Mourinho did change his transitional shape in the second half and brought on Rashford and Fellaini, but it was too little too late.
The duo did make the Red Devils look stronger up front and there were moments which made it seem like they could stage a comeback, but time did not permit. Going into the new season, it will be interesting to see if Mourinho begins games on the offensive more often.
Marouane Fellaini is here to stay with Manchester United
Marouane Fellaini is one player who has had his fair share of critics writing him off for quite some time now. However, his performance last night was evidence enough to suggest that Mourinho still has a key role in mind for Belgian.
United looked a lot more dangerous when the Belgian came in to replace Ander Herrera in the second half. He has always been a physical player with an aggressive approach and that did improve United’s performance on the whole. His aerial abilities also caused problems for Real and that can certainly be an asset.
After a nasty collision with Ramos, Fellaini had a bandaged head for the last 15 minutes but the midfielder remained unperturbed and gave his best on the field. He sent Rashford through on goal after gathering a long pass in the 81st minute, and even headed a shot in to test Navas during stoppage time.
With that being said, it is highly likely that Mourinho deploys the Belgian a lot more often in the upcoming season.