Julen Lopetegui has plenty of work to do at Real Madrid as we put his debut in focus

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Head coach Julen Lopetegui endured a chastening competitive debut for Real Madrid as capital rivals Atleti raced to a 4-2 extra-time victory in the UEFA Super Cup.

Spain striker Diego Costa lashed in on 49 seconds, before French centre forward Karim Benzema’s header and captain Sergio Ramos’ nerveless penalty put Madrid in front.

Costa tapped in on 79 minutes to level things up and Atleti took control from there. Midfielder Saul Niguez struck a stunning half volley and Koke’s low shot provided a fine end to an incisive move.

Here, we review the performance of Lopetegui in the dugout at Lillekula Stadium in Tallinn, Estonia.

BASIC STATS

Goals – 2

Shots – 14

Possession – 59%

Tackles – 36

Dribbles – 21

30-SECOND REPORT

A fresh start for Madrid generated only nuanced changes to the line-up.

In the absence of Zinedine Zidane in the dugout and Cristiano Ronaldo up top, new boss Lopetegui made a slight tweak from the 4-3-1-2 formation that ended 2017/18.

His charges performed in a 4-3-3. Benzema went through the middle and Isco dropped back slightly into the centre midfield.

Madrid had more possession (59/41 per cent) and attempts on goal (14/8). But Madrid managed to generate better chances, from fewer opportunities.

Surprisingly for a team of Atleti’s aerial dominance, the goals came from a perfect Bale cross and then a penalty won from a corner.

With pre-season edging towards to close, alarm bells will ring about how poorly Madrid defended. In one game under Lopetegui they conceded four times, something never witnessed in two-and-a-half years with Zidane in charge.

Centre-backs Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos – admittedly not always ironclad under Zidane – struggled from the start. Costa bullied them for the opener and an awful pass from Ramos to Varane led to the fourth.

These problems multiplied when Brazil anchorman Casemiro was forced off in pain during the second half.

Lopetegui now needs time on the training pitch to further enforce fresh ideas.

TACTICAL TALKING POINT

Benzema goes deep

Benzema was very much the supporting actor to Ronaldo’s leading man.

This selflessness was not always appreciated. A return of five goals in 32 La Liga matches during 2017/18 wasn’t purely caused by poor finishing – Benzema drifted wide and created space for his legendary partner to exploit.

In Estonia, the middle ground was all his. Often he retreated into the midfield, leaving Madrid without a focal point.

However, this strategy gained validation in the 27th minute. Benzema charged into the penalty box when Bale picked the ball up, several elusive changes of direction bamboozling Montenegro centre-back Stefan Savic and allowing space to expertly head home.

The exiled France striker would also force Juanfran’s handball past the hour mark.

Against weaker opposition than Diego Simeone’s fearsome and settled Atleti, he must produce far more attempts than his two on Wednesday night. Goals have to follow.

VERDICT

This was only a ceremonial match, but reasons for worry were present.

The absence of Ronaldo’s ubiquitous threat and a failure to procure a requisite replacement diminished Madrid – and emboldened Atleti.

Varane and Ramos must get back on a wavelength with haste. Keylor Navas was uncertain in goal – good job Thibaut Courtois was watching from the stands.

Murmurs about Lopetegui’s lack of success at an elite club level will now start to grow in volume. Plus, president Florentino Perez’s inaction – or in ability – to strike in the transfer market.

Positively speaking, Bale looks ready to assume the mantle of Madrid’s main man. The threat out wide with Marco Asensio will be too much for most teams.

La Liga kicks off on Monday. Will the Champions League holders be ready?

Rating – 5/10

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Live Real Madrid Blog: Sergio Ramos takes aim at Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp

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Hello one and all, David Cooper with you throughout the day for every nugget of Real Madrid news.

Los Blancos are preparing to face rivals Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup final on Wednesday night before opening up their La Liga campaign against Getafe in a week’s time.

As ever, get in touch with us throughout the day on Twitter and Facebook.

8:35pm – Watch Atletico Madrid train ahead of their Super Cup clash with Real Madrid

Diego Simeone’s side have been training in Estonia ahead of the clash.

Watch their players be put through their paces during practice here.

6:45pm – Watch as Real Madrid train for Super Cup clash

The team trained hard for the clash the Lillekula Stadium in Tallinn, Estonia.

Watch the footage here.

6:05pm – Ramos takes shot at Klopp’s managerial record

The Real Madrid defender took aim at Jurgen Klopp‘s managerial record in big games after the Liverpool manager was critical of Ramos for his involvement in Mohamed Salah‘s injury during the final.

Watch Ramos’ jibe in the video here.

11:13am – Life can still be good without Ronaldo

Club captain: Sergio Ramos.

Club captain: Sergio Ramos.

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos insists the Whites will continue to win top honours despite Cristiano Ronaldo‘s summer departure to Juventus.

Watch the video, here.

10:30am – Lopetegui backs Bale

Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui has revealed his delight that Gareth Bale is staying at the club.

Gareth Bale scored a brace in the Champions League final.

Watch the video, here.

9:33am – It’s matchday!

Real Madrid's Welsh forward Gareth Bale takes part in a trainig session at Lillekula stadium in Tallinn on August 14, 2018, on the eve of the UEFA Super Cup football match Atletico de Madrid vs Real Madrid CF. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP) (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)

Key man: Gareth Bale.

The build-up to tonight’s showpiece in Tallinn is hotting up! For Whites fans in the UAE, the match kicks off at 11pm!

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Watch as Real Madrid train for Super Cup clash

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Real Madrid train at the Lillekula Stadium in Tallinn.

Champions League winners Real Madrid take on rivals and Europa League champions Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday.

Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui stated Gareth Bale can have a standout season following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo.

“Bale is a player we love, he has been here a long time and has been training hard,” Lopetegui said in his pre-Super Cup press conference.

Lopetegui added: “Atletico are a massive team with lots of international players and a clear idea of what the coach wants them to do.”

The team trained hard for the clash the Lillekula Stadium in Tallinn, Estonia.

Watch the training video blow.

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