Real Madrid began the 2018/19 La Liga campaign without Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane with defeat in the first ever Uefa Super Cup derby as Atletico Madrid closes the match with a 4-2 win.
Two extra time goals from Koke and Saul secured victory for Atletico Madrid after normal time saw deadlock between both teams. Koke’s driven finish and Saul’s ruthless volley in extra time gave Europa League holders Atletico their third Super Cup title.
Ahead of the extra time goals, it was the Spanish international Diego Costa who gave Atletico the early lead after 49 seconds and hitting another one after the half time.
This was Real’s first match without the influential forward Cristiano Ronaldo after the Portuguese signed for Juventus for £99m in the summer and Zidane stepped down from his position as manager while former Spain Julen Lopetegui takes responsibility.
Gareth Bale fed Karim Benzema to hit a header at the back of the post for Real’s first, while captain Sergio Ramos capitalized on a penalty for a 2-1 lead after Juanfran was punished for a handball. Defender Marcelo missed an opportunity to score the winner for Real with an acrobatic kick in the final seconds of normal time.
It was the fourth time in the past five years that the Super Cup was challenged between two Spanish clubs–this match being the first with both clubs from the same city.
The gaping hole left by Ronaldo
While Real Madrid are only starting to adapt live without Ronaldo, it was Atletico who provided the late heroics typically identified with their recently departed forward. Furthermore, the club’s failure to fill the gaps left by Ronaldo will remain a talking point for fans following this loss but there was still enough strength in Real’s arsenal of attacking options.
Former Tottenham player Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio are two players who will hope to step up after Ronaldo’s move to the Serie A. The two showed resilience on opposite flanks, often switching and cutting inside to connect with Benzema.
Bale’s speed and accurate passes from the right side set up Benzema for the tiebreaker. Meanwhile, Asensio came close to scoring when Jan Oblak pushed his unorthodox flick to safety.
It’s too early to tell how Real Madrid can cope with the changes, but there’s no question that the strategies of the club will change throughout the course of the 2018/19 La Liga season to have a shot at the title.
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