When the occasion big and Atletico Madrid are the opposition, Real Madrid just can’t let the trophy slip away. Even if few minutes are remaining for the final whistle, Real would make a dramatic comeback to sink Diego Simeone’s men. Of Course the big man, Zinedine Zidane cannot lose trophies, but he is habituated to win those – his first trophy since the 2017-18 Champions League and his boss hope it’s the first of many more.

This was the first title of Zidane’s second stint as Madrid boss – the first returning three straight Champions League wins – but Perez is confident the Frenchman is ready to deliver further success.

Florentino Perez said, “[Zidane] has plenty of trophies and we’re very happy for him. I hope that he wins more trophies. Zidane has a loving relationship with Real Madrid. He decided to rest for a year and now he’s returned with renewed energy. Zidane is a blessing from heaven”.

Real Madrid came to Saudi Arabia with some of their best players: Eden Hazard, Karim Benzema, and Gareth Bale and thus, it was a tough ask for the Frenchman to get the team going in right direction despite the absence of those players, especially Benzema, who has been a goal-scoring machine for the last two seasons for Los Blancos.

Zidane opted to go for five midfielders, which would be an ideal blend of youth and experience and in each match, it turned out that Casemiro and Fede Valverde were providing the much-needed fuel to the engine from the back. Last night, Fede Valverde displayed his masterclass and hinted why is he rated so highly by the critics! Atleti packed the spaces and still, Valverde created spaces to trigger some offensive plays.

Atleti were a hard nut to crack. They noticed in the match against Valencia, how Casemiro and Kroos motored the ship from midfield and thus pressed them more and, which ultimately halted Real’s action from midfield to counter when Atleti advanced – Real failed to enter into the final third phase. Luka Modric provided some space to breathe, but it was still not enough.

Zidane wanted more dynamism. He brought on Rodrygo Goes and it aided Real to enter the final third better than the first half – Rodrygo was more prevalent around Atletico’s penalty area, and it was his through-ball to Jovic which ultimately led to Fede missing a sitter. Rodrygo was effective during the transition. But the goals were not coming and the game went into extra-time. Zidane brought on Vinicius Junior, but like his Brazilian teammate, his fresh legs failed to create an impact.

Thibaut Courtois misjudged a corner kick, the ball fell to Morata, whose bicycle kick was saved by Courtois – a close-shave.In the 110th minute, Modric found Mariano on a through-ball. Mariano then cut it back to Modric, whose shot was saved by Oblak. The ball fell to Mariano again on the rebound — but his shot was saved by Oblak. A big chance went begging.

Real Madrid took a telling blow when Valverde was sent off in the 115th minute. Morata found space. Just as he was about to take his chance, Fede lunges in from behind and took Morata’s legs out. Red card. It was an ugly tackle and the decision was right.

The boy was playing so well and the way Simeone’s men stranglehold Real throughout the match, Valverede’s sent off was like a danger sign as, in the last minutes, Atleti’s counter specialists could hit the nail on the head against a 10-men Real Madrid. As a matter of fact, Fede had nothing to do at that point but went for that tackle. Otherwise, Morata could have ended the match at that point of time.

But the game went to a penalty shootout and it was time for Thibaut Courtois to showcase his masterclass.

Throughout the match, Courtois and Jan Oblak had been brilliant to weather the storm – in set-pieces they were unbeatable. Courtois has saved 9 of the 11 shots on target he has faced in the 2020 Supercopa, including one in the penalty shoot-out.

During the spot-kicks, it was Courtois, who triumphed. Courtois saved one penalty while Saul hit the post on another. Carvajal, Rodrygo, Modric, and Ramos all scored their penalties — eliminating the need for a fifth penalty kick.

At the start of this season, huge question marks hung over Courtois, who was even dropped for reserve Alphonse Areola earlier in the campaign. But now, Courtois has been a fundamental part of Madrid’s swing in form.

Real start the year with a trophy and such a triumph hinting of better times in the future.

 

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