Real Madrid breezed into the Supercopa de Espana final on Wednesday with a commanding 3-1 win over Valencia in Jeddah.
The first semi-final encounter of the inaugural expanded tournament was decidedly one-sided despite injury and illness robbing Madrid of Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale.
Toni Kroos broke the deadlock when he scored directly from a quickly taken corner before the excellent Isco struck a second in the first half.
Luka Modric completed the scoring midway through the second period to send Madrid into a final against either Barcelona or Atletico Madrid and consign Copa del Rey holders Valencia to an early trip home, Dani Parejo’s late penalty proving scant consolation.
Some quick-thinking from Kroos caught out the local TV director as well as Jaume Domenech, with replays of earlier action still being shown to viewers as the Madrid midfielder curled a corner into the net despite the Valencia keeper’s best efforts.
Kevin Gameiro blasted over the bar from a promising position after a rare attack from Valencia, who were limited to 36 per cent of the first-half possession as Madrid controlled the tempo with ease.
One clinical passing move set up Modric for a shot and, when his effort was blocked by Ezequiel Garay, Isco controlled the ball on his chest and volleyed expertly home from 12 yards.
Luka Jovic had a quiet half but should really have made it 3-0 before half-time, the striker failing to beat Jaume with the rebound after Isco hit the left-hand post with a header.
Federico Valverde rippled the side-netting in the second half but it was Modric who put the game beyond Valencia, gathering Jovic’s pass into the box, working space with a step-over and bending a sublime shot past Jaume for his fifth goal of the season.
Parejo at least gave Valencia fans something to cheer in second-half stoppage time, firing a penalty high past Thibaut Courtois after a VAR review saw Sergio Ramos penalised for handball.
5 – Luka Modric has scored five goals in all competitions this season, more than any other in his eight campaigns for @realmadriden. Reactivation#SpanishSuperCup #Supercopadeespana #modric #RealMadrid pic.twitter.com/x4LrFDH1J0
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) January 8, 2020
What does it mean? Zidane masterplan secures another final
This was one of Madrid’s best performances of the season and it came with Benzema and Bale sidelined and with no recognised wingers in the starting line-up.
Instead, head coach Zinedine Zidane gave Modric and Isco licence to roam in front of Kroos, Valverde and Casemiro, giving Los Blancos an imperious level of control over a Valencia team who had little idea how to respond.
It would be no surprise to see Zidane replicate the line-up in the final and perhaps some of their more challenging games of 2020, such as the Champions League last-16 tie with Manchester City.
Isco sparkles in new-look line-up
Zidane opted to pack the team with ball-playing midfielders, with Isco and Modric pushed furthest forward, and it was a system in which the former flourished. He was a constant threat and took his goal well.
Kondogbia run ragged
Geoffrey Kondogbia offered little protection to his back four and did not help in building counter-attacks, either, which were evidently part of Albert Celades’ initial game plan. He was replaced by Maxi Gomez after 55 minutes.
Madrid will meet either Barcelona or Atletico in Sunday’s final, with their next LaLiga game at home to Sevilla not until January 18. Valencia are back in action on January 19 at Real Mallorca.
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