Three talking points from Real Madrid 1-3 Barcelona | Spanish Super Cup
A second trophy of the season was not meant to be on Sunday night for Real Madrid as they came out second best to a ruthless Barcelona performance. The scoreline speaks highly of the Catalan’s dominance, but in all reality, still understates it.
Karim Benzema & co. looked lost for ideas on the field, and so did manager Carlo Ancelotti on the sidelines. The Frenchman did finally strike in the 93rd minute, but it was too late for any hope of a comeback.
Gavi, Robert Lewandowski and Pedri got into the scoresheet for Barcelona as they hoisted the Spanish Super Cup. For Real Madrid, however, the attention now turns to the Copa del Rey where they face a very tricky fixture.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points from the Merengues’ 3-1 drubbing on Sunday.
1. A game with no drive
Real Madrid never came to the party against Barcelona on Sunday. Purely in terms of drive and desire to win, the Catalans thoroughly deserved the result, something which Ancelotti acknowledged.
From start to finish, there was never a spell in the game when Real Madrid looked to be pressurising their opponents. The men in white were far too slack in their approach and the eventual goal from Benzema came too late.
Bluntly said, Los Blancos lost the game before they stepped onto the field with their subpar mentality. Yet, one finds it difficult to believe that Real Madrid, who are usually champions of the mental game, went down so tamely.
As Barcelona put in goal after goal, Ancelotti’s side showed no convincing response to threaten their opponents.
The forwards were caged by the Blaugrana defence to the extent that they could not string three passes together without being intercepted. In midfield, the story was no better as Luka Modric and Toni Kroos were completely overrun by Pedri and Frenkie de Jong.
There is a serious situation brewing in the dressing room that needs to be addressed at the earliest, for a healthy Real Madrid team would never go three goals down in such a toothless manner.
2. Defensive disaster
If there was one department that let down Ancelotti against Barcelona, it was the defensive line. All four defenders suffered disastrous outings and put up blank faces when faced with the Catalan attack.
Dani Carvajal was the slowest player on the field, measured at 29.1 km/h, but was up against the fastest player in Alejandro Balde. Unsurprisingly, the matchup did not fare well for the veteran as he was continually outrun by the Spanish phenom.
Eduardo Camavinga gifted Barcelona the ball for the first goal. However, the defending that followed was very poor as Antonio Rudiger was caught completely out of place while Militao was wrong-footed after Lewandowski’s pass. To see the far post undefended at such a high level is criminal.
For the Blaugrana’s second, the Brazilian centre-back committed himself so high up the field that he could not recover after Frenkie de Jong’s incisive pass. Defending Gavi man-for-man, Rudiger failed to anticipate the youngster’s cross.
The German international did not learn from his mistakes as he allowed a ditto cross by Gavi in the second half for Pedri’s goal. It seemed as if the Merengues‘ backline had snoozed and forgotten to wake up.
The fact that makes the result hard to digest is that all three of Barcelona’s goals were gifts from Real Madrid. Such an occurrence is very unlike the European Champions.
3. An unwanted run of poor form
Real Madrid have now lost four out of their last ten games across all competitions. Of their five games since the restart of club football, the Merengues lost two games and needed penalties to get the win over Valencia.
The remaining two matches included a nervy win over fourth-division side Cacereno and a late three points against Valladolid.
Clearly, none of their displays since the restart have been at the level one would associate with Real Madrid. The 3-1 hammering to Barcelona comes as the biggest blow of them all.
The hectic schedule ahead leaves little room for poor form. Two more weeks of football at this level could virtually eliminate the Merengues from all competitions in which they are involved. Thus, there is an urgent need for the manager and veterans to bring about a change.
Real Madrid next face Villarreal at Estadio de La Ceramica, less than two weeks after losing to the same team at the same venue. Can the men in white wake up and smell the coffee? Or will another defeat midweek be the end of their confident mentality? Only time will tell.
Real Madrid vs Athletic Club: End of an era, farewells, tight race for second place
Real Madrid will walk down the tunnel of Santiago Bernabeu one last time this season on Sunday night. The men in white are pitted against Athletic Club on their final match-day, and the game will not be an easy affair by any means.
The Basque side sit in seventh place on the league standings with 50 points in 37 appearances. However, their qualification for the UEFA Conference League is in danger with Osasuna lurking close behind with an equal number of points.
Anything less than a win could prove insufficient for the visitors and it is clear that they arrive at Santiago Bernabeu with nothing less than a win on their agenda. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Athletic Club Bilbao.
1. The end of an era for the number 9 shirt?
The grey area around Karim Benzema’s future has only widened in recent days. From a situation where his continuity at Real Madrid was taken for granted, it did not take long for the Frenchman’s story to enter a steep deviation.
An economically tempting proposal from Saudi Arabia had Benzema seriously contemplating a move away from Santiago Bernabeu, and reports stated that his departure from the Spanish club was close to complete.
The world, thus, looked in anticipation of his next official interaction with the media. The Ballon d’Or winner publicly addressed the topic for the first time earlier this week, and it is safe to say that his words gave nothing away.
Benzema neither confirmed nor completely refuted the rumours of his exit to the media. His situation is balanced on the blade of a knife and could tip in either direction.
In that sense, there is a good chance that tomorrow’s clash at Santiago Bernabeu is Karim Benzema’s final game for Real Madrid. If the striker does choose to change loyalties, it would mark the end of an era for the team’s number nine position.
It has been over a decade since the Frenchman took over the prestigious kit. He has played 647 games for the club so far in his career, scoring a stunning 353 goals in the process. Of them, 98 have been match-winning contributions.
2. A day of farewells
Earlier today, Real Madrid announced the departure of Marco Asensio from the club. The Spanish winger appears set to sign for PSG for the 2023-24 season and will bid adieu on Sunday. However, he will not be the only player playing his final game for the club tomorrow.
Nacho Fernandez has been a critical part of Real Madrid’s success in recent years but is another name close to sealing an exit. The defender is not satisfied with the playing time under his belt at the club and has not yet responded to the renewal offer on his table.
With his contract running out in less than 30 days, he appears closer to leaving than staying. One can expect an announcement from Nacho on Sunday night after the game at the Bernabeu, which could be his final game in white.
The situation with Dani Ceballos is quite similar. The Spanish midfielder is still undecided on his future, although there is still a slight chance he could continue at the club. Staying on the subject of players making their final appearance, however, he could be one on the list.
Away from the stories of incomplete renewal negotiations, Mariano Diaz is one player whose departure from the club is confirmed. Ferland Mendy, Jesus Vallejo, Alvaro Odriozola and Eden Hazard are some of the other candidates well-placed to make departures, although nothing can be said for sure.
3. A tight race for second place
There is not much to play for on Sunday night except for the emotional tag of it being the season’s final game. Yet, the men in white will not be without an objective against Athletic Club.
Los Blancos sit on 77 points in 37 league appearances this season and just have a one-point lead over third-placed Atletico Madrid. Needless to say, they must be vary of their position on the standings for any complacency could see them drop down the ladder.
Diego Simeone’s men take on fifth-placed Villarreal at the same time as Real Madrid’s game against Athletic Club. Even if Carlo Ancelotti’s men settle for a draw against the Basque side, the second place would be Atletico Madrid’s to lose.
With both games kicking off simultaneously, there will be nerves throughout the ninety minutes in Madrid. One can only hope for action-filled games to keep the anxiety and adrenaline high.