What is the first thing Jose Mourinho does after Real Madrid lost to Barcelona in the first leg of the Spanish Supercopa? Blame the referee and linesman for an offside that never happened, and then of course declare he won’t be talking about the referees this season. And there was nothing new regarding the football his team came to display.
Real Madrid won the match against Barcelona last season, at the Nou Camp, the one that pretty much decided that the title will go to Madrid for the first time since 2008, because they weren’t afraid on the pitch. They came to play, they came to score, in a cautious yet acceptable game plan, and didn’t just hang back for 90 minutes, clearing the ball and hoping to catch a break.
Last night? The same old Real Madrid. Using Callejon as a winger who did nothing but defend and help with the marking. Xabi Alonso simply helped on Xavi and Messi. Karim Benzema hardly touched the ball all match, maybe 6-7 times. Cristiano Ronaldo did score a goal through a corner kick, but was non-existent for the rest of the match.
Angel Di Maria didn’t start because Mourinho decided he wants to have a game changer off the bench, which kind of worked for him, but not because Real Madrid were suddenly much better. They simply caught a lucky break – Iker Casillas made a fantastic one on one stop against Lionel Messi and Victor Valdes decided to toy around with the ball instead of clearing it.
Both head coaches didn’t reveal all their cards or send out all their weapons. Only a Supercopa match, nothing to be too worried about. But tendencies and directions do show up. Jose Mourinho will be just as annoying (and interesting to hear) when his team doesn’t do well as he’s always been.
Real Madrid may start looking different once Luka Modric actually signs, but that doesn’t mean his philosophy will be any different. To expect Real Madrid to dare a little bit more in a Super Cup match isn’t too much to ask, especially when the fear of losing to Barcelona should be behind them after putting their league woes against them to rest last season.
Mourinho may have said he doesn’t really care about the Super Cup, but from his tactics and the way his players played for most of the match, than wasn’t the case. He had the same negative way about his team that they show in most of their meetings with Barcelona, giving them only two wins in their last 18 meetings since the summer of 2008.
Last season’s title came because Real Madrid were the most formidable attacking team in Europe, missing out on the Champions League final partially because of luck – penalty kicks. Partially it had to do with being outplayed, at home, by Bayern Munich. Tendencies to defend when you don’t have the right kind of tools for it are hard to change.
Barcelona were a better team than Real Madrid last season, and Mourinho knows that. Consistency won him his title. As of now, he has done nothing to change the balance of power, and sometimes even a title isn’t enough to make that happen. Maybe with a different kind of midfielder in his squad, who gives him a bit more attacking flexibility, he won’t have to make up excuses and baseless allegations against referees as much as we’re used to from him.