Champions League winners Real Madrid were better of the two sides competing in the UEFA Super Cup in Skopje on Tuesday night.
Manchester United as Europa League holders did little to justify their high ambitions ahead of the new season as they ended up being completely outplayed by Ronaldo-less Los Blancos.
Goals from Casemiro and Isco made sure Real Madrid go two goals up after only 50 minutes into the match, whereas Romelu Lukaku scored a consolation goal for Manchester United as Jose Mourinho loses the third UEFA Super Cup he participated in as manager.
Footballing Lesson for Manchester United
The opening moments of the match looked so positive for Manchester United, who were keen to demonstrate they have been unjustifiably undervalued against Real Madrid.
But as soon as Real Madrid got a taste for the blood they started looking like true European champions they are. Luka Modric and Isco took over possession and Los Blancos started setting up a formidable link-up play Manchester United struggled to break for a good part in the first half and after the break. The possession numbers of 60% to 40% were not an accurate reflection of Real Madrid’s dominance in this match. Manchester United looked lost at times and completely without a solution for Real Madrid’s build-up play worthy of European champions. Two goals inside De Gea’s net could have easily been four – at least – hadn’t it been for the woodwork that prevented Casemiro and Bale from scoring.
Casemiro a Key Player for Real
His place in the team has been under the biggest scrutiny during last season, but Carlos Henrique Casemiro once again proved his value and importance for Real Madrid. Humble and modest former Sao Paulo midfielder needed some time to adapt to the royal surroundings and star-studded side he was thrown in, but a vote of confidence from Zinedine Zidane seems to have done wonders for the Brazilian.
The 25-year-old defensive midfielder might not be the most fashionable name in the team, but he definitely is one of Zinedine Zidane’s most reliable men. Strong on the ball and ruthless in his defensive duties, Casemiro is also a valuable presence upfront which he proved against Manchester United. He might be criticized and disputed, but Casemiro is that binding energy which offers balance between Real Madrid’s star-studded lines of the team. And his opening Super Cup goal has come as just reward for another top-notch performance.
Wasteful Paul Pogba
The arrival of Nemanja Matic was meant to give more freedom to Paul Pogba and allow former Juventus star to replicate his top-class performances from Turin. There will be a lot of the fans arguing it’s still too early in the season to throw a barrage of criticism his way, but Pogba is not a new arrival but a well-established member of the team who is expected to become a leader of Mourinho’s team and he deserves to be scrutinized.
The Real Madrid match brought up the old wasteful Pogba from last season, who seems to be more interested in making an attractive move on the pitch than creating something of value and significance for his team. A couple of early tricks and the saved second-half header was all we saw from the Frenchman who disappeared as Real Madrid gained pace moving forward. His poor timing upfront and wrong decision-making when going three against two in the final third of the pitch was another negative moment from the game.
Mourinho’s Tactics Need Polishing
The Portuguese tactician wass expected to get a full grip on his Manchester United job in his second season at the club, but the game against Real Madrid exposed all of the tactical weaknesses of the Premier League giants.
Mourinho is disappointed with the fact he’s being pushed into the new season without a desired number of new players that would allow him to showcase the full scope of his tactical ability. That’s what he’s saying at least. Often referred to as a too defensively oriented manager, Jose is attempting to ditch such a label but it is fair to say it is not working too well for him. He started the game with four men in the back, conceded due to poor positioning of his defenders and a questionable decision from the ref. He subsequently decided to switch to three defenders in front of De Gea. Having pulled Nemanja Matic further back in between Lindelof and Smalling, Mourinho allowed Lingard and Rashford on one side, and Mkhitaryan on another more room to go forward and spread the play against impressively organized Real Madrid side. It didn’t do the trick as his changes were at blame for the second goal, however, when Bale and Isco pulled off a slick one-two inside the box for an easy finish against virtually non-existing defense line. Mourinho is a long way off from where he wants to be tactically and it’s back to the drawing board for the Portuguese boss who will need another class defender and an expert winger to make best use out of his 3-5-2.
Nemanja Matic the Best out of United’s Three Summer Arrivals
Once again, it’s definitely too early to draw conclusions but based on everything we’ve seen in Manchester United’s first competitive game, Nemanja Matic is the best of three summer arrivals.
The Serbian international midfielder offered great stability in the centre of the park. With Matic holding the ground for Pogba, it was up to the Frenchman to use the freedom to express himself, which he failed to do in the end. But Nemanja Matic did his share perfectly, winning ball back from Real Madrid, disrupting the rival play and offering himself as an option upfront whenever possible. It was exactly Matic who allowed another summer arrival, Lukaku, to score in the second half with the Belgian latching on a rebound after Nemanja Matic’s outside the box attempt. On his own part, Romelu Lukaku was for the most part isolated upfront, but showed some potential with neat link-up play at the beginning of the game which is a sign of promise for the United fans. His missed opportunities in the second half, however, remain a worry. However, with a couple of below-par games under his belt, United’s third signing Victor Lindelof appears to be the worst of the three. The Swedish defender has been outpaced and outrun by Real Madrid players, who left him looking silly on a couple of occasions, most notably Bale with his blazing first-team runs.
REAL MADRID: Navas 7 – Carvajal 7.5, Varane 7, Ramos 7, marcelo 7 – Modric 7.5, Casemiro 8, Kroos 7.5 – Bale 7 (Asensio 6.5), Benzema 7 (Ronaldo 6), Isco 7.5 (Lucas 6).
Unused subs: Casilla, Nacho, Hernandez, Kovacic.
MANCHESTER UNITED: de Gea 7 – Valencia 7, Lindelof 6, Smalling 6, Darmian 6.5 – Herrera 6 (Fellaini 6.5), Matic 7.5, Pogba 6 – Mkhitaryan 7, Lukaku 7.5, Lingard 6 (Rashford 7).
Unused subs: Blind, Martial, Carrick, Mata, Romero.
REFEREE: Gianluca Rocchi
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