There’s something about Real Madrid that makes them look tired after just one season together. A new superstar has to be purchased each summer to keep things interesting. The Cristiano Ronaldo-Gareth Bale combination looked quite bad in the Spanish Super Cup, but the entrance of James Rodriguez in the second half did bring the team a new dimension of mobility, creativity and eventually a goal.
That goal didn’t help a lot because Atletico Madrid scored an away goal that at the moment gives them the lead going into the second leg of the Supercopa. Rodriguez wasn’t exactly brilliant in the 35 minutes leading up to his goal, as Real Madrid struggled to cope with the same old tactics from Atletico Madrid: Closing down in a very narrow and disciplined way, barely leaving room for individual operations past a certain imaginary line.
Right now, it’s going to be interesting to see how Carlo Ancelotti works out his abundance of player on certain positions. His front trio remains Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale. He has Xabi Alonso, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos for the central midfield, but we can’t forget about Asier Illarramendi. There’s Angel di Maria looking to play, James Rodriguez and also Isco. It’s great to have depth, but not when it can cause internal problems for lack of minutes.
Another issue that troubled Real Madrid in the 1-1 draw was their set pieces ability. Once again, a goal conceded as the duo of Pepe and Sergio Ramos, supposedly strong in the air and on the ground, couldn’t handle defending or leading a defense to stop a corner kick from beating their goalkeeper. There’s also the threat of a red card happening all the time, as Sergio Ramos punched Mario Mandzukic in the mouth, going unnoticed. There’s no need to mention Pepe can go off at any moment.
Rodriguez won’t be sitting on the bench for long. He’s that good, and he also cost enough money to make him a lineup player almost automatically, unless Ancelotti has plans to create wars with the Real Madrid front office. For at least one official match, Real Madrid looked bad because of Cristiano Ronaldo and not due to his absence. An injury might be the reason, but for now there are now concerning signs from within the club about his substitution at half time.
The strongest team in Spain, at least on the name sheet. The defending European champions. Real Madrid have a scary, deep and flashy squad that should look a lot better than it did in the first leg. There are also a limited number of matches against Atletico Madrid which is good news for the team. However, even though one match doesn’t say anything about a long season ahead of us, it did raise some concerning issues.