The UEFA Super cup is a one off match played between the winner of the Europa League and the winner of the Champions League. In theory this game should be played fiercely but more often than not it is just looked at as another pre season friendly. This season though, it pitted two of the biggest names in World Football against each other, Manchester United and Real Madrid. With Real Madrid probably the best club in the world at the moment being the only club to have ever successfully defended their champions league crown, it was more of a test for Manchester United and their credentials for this upcoming Premier League season. Real Madrid won the match 2-1 but the score could’ve been different if it wasn’t for missed opportunities from both sides.
For Real, It has been a good last year. They defended their Champions League trophy, won the La Liga, managed to keep Ronaldo and Bale, have scored in 70 odd consecutive games and to top it all off, arch rivals Barcelona have just lost Neymar, who leaves a pair of shoes that not too many can fill.
One might think that this might lead to some complacency, and against a hungry Manchester United, they could’ve slipped up. But they didn’t, they put up a display that United couldn’t match. It was a confident display. Right from the beginning, they threatened and hit the post while having another few close opportunities. Then, they scored, although there was a hint of offside. They controlled the game and after the break extended their lead through Isco. They hit the post yet again and seemed to be able to get past a United defence that is one of the best. Such was the confidence of Zidane in his team that even after leading 2-1, he made three attacking substitutions.
Most managers would want to keep what they have but Zidane was more concerned about his team’s counter attacking prowess than defence when United were all out attacking. Another positive was their midfield. The Real Madrid midfield of Casemiro, Kroos and Modric dominated the game and almost ran over a very experienced United midfield of Matic, Pogba and Herrera. The ball just seems to be like a magnet to Modric’s feet. They did not even need their star man Cristiano Ronaldo to beat a very strong Man United side. Isco also seems to have stepped up his game now that he knows he will get more first team football due to the depature of James Rodriguez. Interesting times ahead for Real but for now, they seem to be very comfortable with their team.
On the other hand, Manchester United. This is almost a make or break season for Jose after what some may say was a disappointing campaign last year considering the players bought in and overall strength of the squad. This was supposed to be a curtain raiser and although they were well beaten by a well oiled Madrid unit, this game probably showed them where they want to be. They have all the resources that a football club wants, now is the time to take it to the next level. The biggest positive from yesterday that they could take would be the performance of Nemanja Matic. He was probably their best midfielder by a mile and threw some bright light onto a rather dull day for the red devils.
Another thing that really impressed me yesterday was the use of Marouane Fellaini as a nuisance in the opposition box. It is a very unorthodox strategy but one could see that the Madrid defence was uneasy with his presence in the box. He can wrestle, win headers, assist or even score with headers and he showed his fighting spirit by choosing to stay on the pitch rather than go off with an injury.
Probably the last thing a Man Utd fan would want to see was a bad performance from Paul Pogba.(but as an Arsenal fan, I love it) His inconsistencies over the last year had cost United a lot of points. United need a good season from him in order to be successful. Lukaku on the other hand, had an up and down game. He got the goal but missed a sitter, also misjudged an offside while running for a ball that a teammate could’ve gotten. He also is an important cog in this Manchester United team and needs to be firing if anything of significance is to be achieved. The defence looked rusty. Maybe it was because Eric Bailly was not present, regardless there is some work to be done by Mourinho and it needs to be done fast because the Premier League starts this weekend and if they’re not at it from the get go, they’re going to be the chasing pack all season.