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Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Valencia | Spanish Super Cup



Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images

Four of Spain’s top teams face off against each other in Saudi Arabia for the Spanish Super Cup this week. The winners of the two semi-finals will take on each other for glory at the weekend to walk away with the piece of silverware.

After already winning the UEFA Super Cup in their first game of the season, Real Madrid will look to wrap up their second trophy. First, however, they must get past a stubborn Valencia.

Gennaro Gattuso’s men have not had the best of starts to the new league season and currently sit 11th with just five wins in 16 games. They are coming on the back of a disastrous run of form, having lost their last two La Liga games and two friendlies before that.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men are coming off a loss themselves, yet are the overwhelming favourites to progress to a possible El Clasico final, with Barcelona facing Real Betis in the other semi-finals.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points before the Merengues‘ Supercopa opener.

1. The trademark bounce-back

Had the Villarreal and Real Madrid players exchanged jerseys and played out the ninety minutes at Estadio de la Ceramica on Saturday, one would be convinced that Quique Setien’s men were the European Champions. Such was the extent of the Yellow Submarines’ dominance on the night.

At some points in the game, the visitors struggled to string two passes in succession without losing the ball to Villarreal’s high press. The Spanish side showed the world Real Madrid’s weak spots, and there is no doubt that Valencia would have taken note of the same.

Yet, it is not in the club’s DNA to get washed out in a game and not strike back. The best sides face adversity and come out second best on occasion. What separates Real Madrid from the rest is their ability to come back stronger and they will look to do the same in Riyadh.

Ancelotti has built a mentality monster during his second stint at the Santiago Bernabeu. One can already sense the trademark Real Madrid masterclass impending on Wednesday night to serve as a reminder to the world that the events at the weekend were just a mild blemish in their season.

2. Two missing cogs

Alaba and Tchouameni ruled out (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)

Carlo Ancelotti and his troupe have already made the long trip to Riyadh and are currently training in Saudi Arabia. Two key players, however, did not make the squad list through injury and thus will not be available for the Super Cup.

Yesterday, Ancelotti’s side officially announced that Aurelien Tchouameni had suffered an injury to his left soleus muscle. The Frenchman will be on the sidelines until his recovery is satisfactory, potentially three weeks.

David Alaba finds himself in a similar situation after suffering a blow to his right soleus muscle. Thus, the Austrian International too will be unavailable for the tournament.

With two regular starters ruled out of action, Carlo Ancelotti will have to find a quick-fix solution for both departments, although one is relatively easier to mend.

Alaba’s unavailability opens the door for Antonio Rudiger and Eder Militao to start as the centre-backs on the night. With the previous game’s right-back relocated centrally, Dani Carvajal is expected to return to the starting lineup.

The problem in midfield, however, is slightly trickier. Toni Kroos is best placed to take over as the pivot and will look to hold the fort against Valencia. He could be joined by Luka Modric and Federico Valverde in the middle of the park.

3. Switch in mentality

The fundamental difference between playing a league and a cup is the sudden change in margin for error. A defeat on both fronts is intolerable, but a league format provides some cushion to come back from an occasional slip-up.

The Spanish Super Cup’s rebranding into a new format makes it more ruthless than ever. To walk away with the trophy, Los Blancos will have to win two out of two games and hence must now tread a tightrope.

Needless to say, it all boils down to switching the mentality and stepping onto the field for a flawless ninety minutes. Real Madrid under Ancelotti have proven to possess that shade numerous times in the past season and will look to channel the same energy for the rest of the week.

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Three talking points from Real Madrid 1-0 Union Berlin



Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid kicked off their UEFA Champions League campaign on Wednesday night with a narrow 1-0 win over Union Berlin.

The victory was deserved from the point of view of domination of play. Real Madrid were the only team attacking for large parts of the night and created chances to no end.

Yet, one must tip the hat to the visitors’ resilient defence. Playing the first UEFA Champions League clash in the club’s history is difficult enough, let alone at the Santiago Bernabeu. Union Berlin did so and with some style.

Until the 93rd minute, a draw appeared to be the most probable result. The visitors refused to cave into Real Madrid’s relentless attacks and poured their hearts out on the field.

In the end, however, Carlo Ancelotti’s men did what they do best. A last-minute winner from Jude Bellingham gave the hosts all three points.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points from Real Madrid 1-0 Union Berlin.

The power of Real Madrid

Real Madrid are one of the few teams in the world that can never be written off. Such is the ability of the team, more so under Carlo Ancelotti, that they can pull off a win even after a howler.

Their unfair advantage, in part, owes itself to the ridiculous individual quality they possess on the field. Any player is capable of turning the game around with a moment of magic.

Yet, the most important factor that works in their favour is the mental resilience in the squad. Real Madrid never believe it is over until it really is, and Wednesday night’s game provided further reassurance as to why they are the mentality monsters.

For 90 minutes, the visitors frustrated Real Madrid to the limit. They stuck to their defensive lines with discipline and did not give Los Blancos much to work with.

Yet, Real Madrid’s perseverance was visible through the ordeal. The intensity of their attacks amplified with every passing minute and showed no signs of tapering down.

Poetically, they found the winning goal in the final minute of added time when all doors seemed closed, with Jude Bellingham being the hero yet again.

Forwards need to step up

Rodrygo, Joselu need to step up. (Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images)

The men in white had 75% of the possession on Wednesday night at Santiago Bernabeu and kept making the required penetrative attacks. 

In 90 minutes, the hosts racked up an xG tally of 3.80. Yet, shockingly, they were goalless even in the penultimate minute of the game.

Real Madrid took 32 shots against Union Berlin as opposed to the opposition’s four. Seven shots were on target while 10 were blocked. 

In terms of big chances, the me in white churned up five in the 90 minutes of which they missed four. They also struck the woodwork twice last night.

The team’s struggles in the final third place the spotlight on Rodrygo Goes and Joselu, who were the team’s two forwards at Santiago Bernabeu. Both players suffered disappointing nights in front of goal and just could not catch a break from their poor luck.

The Spaniard had three shots on target, five off it, and three attempts blocked against Union Berlin. All of it, however, was in vain. 

The Brazilian was not much better with three shots and one blocked chance. Nevertheless, their poor results were not for a lack of trying if that is any silver lining.

Far from convincing 

Real Madrid’s mentality and fortitude to push for a win is indeed a reason to be optimistic. However, that does not hide the fact that the men in white struggled and toiled on to no end.

The Champions League has no minnows, but one would expect Real Madrid to show their dominance at some point in the game and close the deal. However, that spell of play never arrived.

Los Blancos may be on a six-game winning streak so far this season, but there is reason to believe that a factor of luck has been essential for most of their scalps.

All eyes will thus be on Ancelotti now. The manager has a world-class roster at his disposal, and it will now be up to him to enhance Real Madrid’s performance in the final third. After all, putting away chances is as important as creating them.

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