Tuesday’s UEFA Super Cup clash between Real Madrid and Manchester United was by no means the thriller that this fixture has produced in the past, but it was an engrossing battle nevertheless.
Jose Mourinho had been quick to label his side the underdogs going into this fixture, and at times United definitely looked like they deserved the tag, but his tactics nearly paid off. In the end the superior quality available to Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane made the difference.
Here, we analyse the performance of the two managers.
Shots – 16
Shots on target – 6
Pass success – 88%
Aerial duel success – 52%
Dribbles won – 6
Tackles – 13
Possession – 63%
Shots – 14
Shots on target – 6
Pass success – 80%
Aerial duel success – 48%
Dribbles won – 7
Tackles – 22
Possession – 37%
The Real Madrid manager opted for a familiar formation, setting out his side in their usual 4-3-3 with Isco, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema up front.
After a productive start from United, Madrid’s midfield axis of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro, along with star man Isco, ensured that Los Blancos controlled possession.
Isco, meanwhile, wreaked havoc on the United defence, showing once again why he has earned a spot in Zidane’s starting XI, and the manager’s faith in Bale also paid off as the Welshman produced a strong showing – teeing up Isco for Madrid’s second.
Manchester United were set out in a 3-5-2 with Antonio Valencia and Jesse Lingard as wingbacks and Henrikh Mkhitaryan given a roaming role alongside Romelu Lukaku up front.
However, Lingard struggled in the wingback role and was substituted at half-time, with Marcus Rashford coming on in his place. As the tempo increased in the second half, the formation more regularly resembled a 4-3-3.
Mourinho’s gameplan was simple – defend well and play on the counter – but his defence couldn’t handle the star-studded Real Madrid attack.
United showed promise on the counter, but lacked a cutting edge at times and squandered quite a few opportunities.
However, despite being dominated they were in with a shout for a large part of the game, and Mourinho will rue the missed chances.
The Real Madrid manager was the more active presence on the touchline in Skopje, although he was still his usual calm, composed self.
He could be seen on occasions directing his team’s movements, but by now Zidane knows his side is a well-oiled machine which doesn’t need much in-match direction from him.
Mourinho was largely a stoic figure on the touchline on Tuesday night. His most noteworthy moment came at half-time, when he shook hands with Cristiano Ronaldo and put an arm around the Portuguese striker’s shoulder. The two have clashed at times ever since they parted ways when Mourinho left Madrid, but this was a public show of friendship.
Other than that, and a few of the usual remonstrations at refereeing injustices, Mourinho was rather calm, or perhaps he just knew his side were coming up against a better team.
Real Madrid are the better side, and after a slow start, they played like it. Zidane’s strategy has always been to have a simple, clear gameplan that allows players to express themselves freely, thus maximising his best players’ talents.
Tuesday night was no different.
Mourinho is still trying to figure out his best side, and it showed. The experimental formation was a gamble and it looked like some players weren’t certain of their roles, but, at the same time, while Madrid dominated, United were always in the game.
Against a superior side, Mourinho did the best he could, and if his attacking players had grasped some of the opportunities available to them, the scoreline may well have been different.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was satisfied with the way his team performed despite losing 2-1 to Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup in Skopje on Tuesday.
“I am happy with many things of the performance. We don’t have in the Premier League Real Madrid — the top teams in the Premier League have different qualities and there are no replicas of (Luka) Modric, (Toni) Kroos, Isco or Casemiro,” said Mourinho.
Casemiro gave Madrid, the reigning European champions, the lead in the first half at the Philip II Arena and Isco made it 2-0 shortly after the break.
But Romelu Lukaku pulled one back for United in an improved second half and Mourinho added: “We found a way to give them difficulties in the second half, gave them football they don’t like and I am really happy with our reaction.”
The outcome might have been different had Lukaku not missed one great chance just before finding the net and had Keylor Navas not denied Marcus Rashford late on.
“We had a big chance to score just after they went 2-0 up and after it went to 2-1 Rashford was face to face with the goalkeeper. We had a fight until the last seconds and to do that I think is great.”
Mourinho did not keep his runners-up medal, choosing instead to give it to a young United fan in the crowd.
“Sometimes when I win I don’t keep the medals, so imagine when I lose,” he joked.
“For me the medal will go some place in my house and for that kid it’s the moon. For sure he will keep it and remember it.
“He was a little kid with a Man United shirt. I have no idea where he comes from but I think he’ll never forget.”
Provided by AFP
Real Madrid beat Manchester United 2-1 to win the UEFA Super Cup in the Macedonian capital Skopje on Tuesday.
Goals in each half from Casemiro and Isco had the reigning European champions two ahead before Romelu Lukaku pulled one back.
It is the second year running Madrid have won the trophy, contested by the holders of the Champions League and Europa League.
While Madrid’s new signing Theo Hernandez didn’t make it onto the field, three of United’s new recruits did feature from the start.
Here’s a look at how they fared.
It was a decent debut for Nemanja Matic in a Red shirt. He stopped a few attacks dead in their tracks, getting the better of Gareth Bale, Isco, Casemiro and Karim Benzema on separate occasions.
His positioning was top notch and he managed to find a couple of good passes as well. At one point though, he bizarrely stood still, expecting David de Gea to claim a looping ball into the box but the Spaniard stayed on his line and Bale’s impromptu flick towards goal went just off target.
He was suspect for the second goal when he appeared to lose his footing at the crucial moment and Isco was played clean through inside the box and curled his effort into the far corner.
At the other end though, it was his shot from distance that Keylor Navas spilled which led to Lukaku finishing from close range.
Lindelof has had a less than convincing pre-season with United and that trend continued into the Super Cup tie. Despite looking a bit nervy, he didn’t do too much wrong but was at fault for the opening goal.
Casemiro managed to run in behind him too easily and scored from Dani Carvajal’s ball over the top. Antonio Valencia must also shoulder some of the blame for not covering while the Real Madrid midfielder was marginally offside, it must be said.
Lindelof did prevent a certain goal in the 61st minute though when Carvajal drilled a ball across the face of goal where Benzema was waiting to stab home. The Swede did brilliantly to get a foot to the ball through the striker’s legs.
Lukaku got his debut goal on the night when he slotted home the rebound from Matic’s initial effort.
Earlier in the second half though, the Belgian was guilty of missing from point-blank range, skying his right-footed effort on the half-volley after Navas had parried Paul Pogba’s header perfectly into his path.
He did start the game on very well though, operating as the focal point of United’s attack. The striker showed a few neat touches as his teammates played the ball off him to good effect.