Julen Lopetegui’s reign started with a stutter in Tallinn as Real Madrid succumbed to an extra-time 4-2 European Super Cup defeat to city rivals Atletico.
Los Blancos recovered from a first-minute Diego Costa sucker punch through Karim Benzema and a Sergio Ramos penalty – stepping up in place of Cristiano Ronaldo – before Costa stabbed home his second and forced the game to go to the distance.
A stunner from Saul separated the two sides before Koke made the result sure for Atletico. Below are our ratings for Real …
Keylor Navas 6. Didn’t have too much to do but could have stood taller and stronger at his near post for Costa’s opening goal.
Dani Carvajal 6. Relatively subdued return to action for the energetic right-back, who had his hands full with Lemar and didn’t get forward much.
Raphael Varane 4. Badly beaten by Costa for the opener and also lost out in the build-up to Saul’s extra time strike. Not his best game.
Sergio Ramos 6. Predictably endured a fierce x-rated running battle with Costa throughout the game. Netted a penalty to send his team ahead.
Marcelo 6. Led his team’s charge down the left, including an ambitious shot over the top. Erred in the build-up to Costa’s equaliser.
Casemiro 6. Started as though he was still on holiday but soon woke up to provide his usual resilience in front of the back four.
Toni Kroos 6. Pretty subdued, looking unsuited to the new system as he is asked to sit deeper next to Casemiro rather than dictating play.
Isco 6. Floated in and out of the game, showing flashes of his undoubted brilliance but not doing enough to penetrate the penalty area.
Gareth Bale 7. Delivered a great right-footed cross for Benzema’s equaliser and another stunning pass to tee up Asensio. Excelled early but tired later on.
Karim Benzema 7. Netted with a good header to boost his confidence, and played a full part with a fluent and flexible performance.
Marco Asensio 6. Nearly scored with a cheeky flicked back-heel and sent a curler just wide. Bright before he was replaced just before the hour.
Luka Modric 7. Entered the fray early in the second half and showed his class with
Dani Ceballos 6. Introduced into the midfield but couldn’t make much of an impact, continuing to look like a fringe player.
Lucas Vazquez 6. Offered determination down the right flank but little else, with Atletico in charge by the time he appeared.
Borja Mayoral 5. Came on for Kroos in desperation as Real chased the game in extra time but didn’t contribute much.
When the La Liga season opens on Friday, one of the biggest storylines will be the use of video assistant replay (VAR) for the first time.
Carlos Velasco, president of the Referee Technical Committee, believes VAR will only be a positive and help referees avoid game-altering mistakes.
“Every referee’s nightmare when refereeing a World Cup is that a team goes through because of you, or that a team is knocked out because of you,” said Velasco.
See what else Velasco had to say in the video below.
Right-back Santiago Arias has revealed the influential role Los Rojiblancos legend and Colombia team-mate Radamel Falcao performed to convince him to join Atletico Madrid.
Arias, 26, moved to the Spanish capital from PSV Eindhoven this summer as replacement for Internazionale-bound Sime Vrsaljko
This saw him follow in the footsteps of Falcao. The celebrated striker scored 70 times in 91 games for Atleti before his lucrative May 2013 transfer to Monaco.
Watch Arias detail the 32-year-old’s promotion of Atleti here.