One goal after only five minutes was enough for Atletico Madrid, through Mario Mandzukic, to claim their first title of the season with a 1-0 win over Real Madrid and 2-1 in aggregate, winning the Supercopa de España for only the second time.
Even if the defending champions have lost quite a few key players over the summer, it doesn’t seem to have hurt the way they play and succeed. After 180 minutes against an immensely talented Real Madrid side, Atletico Madrid come out with only one ball in their net. The defense remains aggressive, cynical and tight. The offensive remains opportunistic and efficient in just the right amount.
Another terrible piece of central defending from Real Madrid allowed Atletico Madrid to score the winning goal, while Cristiano Ronaldo was sitting on the bench, only introduced at half time. Mario Mandzukic was first to a long ball from Moya, and while he was making his move towards the penalty box he got a nice assist from Antoine Griezmann, and had no problem converting his one on one chance with Iker Casillas.
Real Madrid took over the middle of the pitch thanks to some very good football from Toni Kroos and Luka Modric. Atletico couldn’t prevent Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez, enjoying the space left to them by Karim Benzema dropping back, from creating chances. However, they were never accurate enough near the box, and the sending off of Diego Simeone didn’t help them find a big enough weakness in the Atletico Madrid defense.
Carlo Ancelotti made a big mistake at half time: He took out Toni Kroos, brought in Cristiano Ronaldo, and dropped James Rodriguez to the midfield. This gave Atletico Madrid an advantage in physicality in the middle of the park, and made it a lot easier for them to protect their lead. Cristiano Ronaldo had 45 minutes on the pitch in which he did absolutely nothing, in a second half that was about keeping the status quo.
Atletico Madrid made the right signings, so it seems, to make the transition from last season to be effortless. This is still the disciplined, combative, slightly dirty team that won the championship last season. The Super Cup title means nothing in the long run, but it serves as an example that despite the mega, Galacticos team Real Madrid showcase heading into this season, it’s not going to win them the title just like that.