No more friendly matches – it’s time to make things official, almost. The Spanish Super Cup is the first trophy handed out in the season, this time bringing Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid together in what should be another heated affair, spread over two legs, to open the season in the La Liga.
For Atletico Madrid, the defending champions after 18 years, it is the second consecutive visit to the competition. Last season they faced Barcelona, didn’t lose (0-0, 1-1) but still managed to let the trophy slip through their fingers. It didn’t matter as the more important one landed in their grasp, also after playing against Barcelona on the final day of the season.
This is the first time since 2008 that Barcelona aren’t in the Supercopa match, while Real Madrid are hoping to make it a second consecutive win for them, coming up as the victors in their double meeting with Barcelona in 2012. For the last couple of seasons, the team that wins the competition doesn’t go on to win the title.
What happened this summer? Real Madrid, as always, splashed a lot of cash, although brought in only three players: Toni Kroos, James Rodriguez and Keylor Navas. From what we’ve seen so far in the preseason, it was just what the doctor ordered, although it remains to be seen if the defense, not getting any new additions, can hold out without falling apart over the course of an entire season.
Atletico Madrid lost a lot of key players: Thibaut Courtois, Diego Costa, Filipe Luis. David Villa left to the MLS and Adrian Lopez to Portugal and Porto. Diego Simeone spent €88.5 million on newcomers, which include Guilherme Siqueria, Angel Correa, Mario Mandzukic, Jan Oblak, Raul Jimenez and Antoine Girezmann. Probably weaker than last season, but only because this team will need time to come together.
As for this match? Real Madrid failed to beat Atletico Madrid in the league last season, but beat them twice in the Copa Del Rey competitions and then again, in extra time, when the two met for the Champions League title, which was probably one of the few times we saw Simeone make tactical mistakes since becoming the team’s manager.
It’s still early to try and understand what Atletico Madrid will look like. Real Madrid are trying to become a team that can win through more than just their speed and counter attacking. That is what Toni Kroos was brought here for. Facing an Atletico Madrid side that might find it difficult, at the moment, to make its closing downs as efficient as they were last season should give them an edge, especially at home.