Real Madrid is coming off another amazing season during which they won both La Liga and their 12th Champions League title. On top of this they cemented their European dominance by winning the UEFA Super Cup (a match between the winners of the Champions League and the Europa League). Then Los Blancos went a step further with a sound victory over arch-rivals Barcelona during the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup.
Real Madrid put on a clinic at the Camp Nou with surgical finishing as they won the first leg 3-1. However, the victory didn’t come without a steep price. Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo was sent off late in the match after he was awarded a second yellow card for a perceived dive. Whether or not the card was actually warranted can be debated, but tensions were heightened when he lightly shoved the referee in his frustration. This led to an unexpected five-match ban, which Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has called excessive. The ban will keep Ronaldo out of the second leg of the Super Cup final, but with the way Madrid has been playing it probably won’t matter too much.
Madrid boasts what is easily one of most fearsome offenses in football and players like Marco Asensio are beginning to step up and make names for themselves. Asensio scored during his debut at the Super Cup with a long range goal that put the final nail in the coffin of Barcelona. With so much depth in its attack combined with a stalwart defense Barcelona will have its work cut out for it during the second match.
The attacking prowess of Real Madrid has been on display for the last year, and it was exemplified during the 2016-17 UEFA Champions League. Madrid practically steam-rolled the competition during the Champions League and notched an impressive four goals against a defense that was unarguably the best in this season’s competition. This was a Juventus team that had managed to hold Barcelona scoreless during the quarter-finals and only allowed one goal to a resurgent Monaco squad in the semis. That Madrid was able to hang up four goals on this Juventus back-line speaks volumes to just how lethal they really are. In fact, the manner in which Juventus stymied Barcelona might have helped to lead to the eventual transfer of Neymar.
Many fans had wondered how drastic of an effect the transfer of Neymar would have on Barcelona and from the looks of things it’s pretty dire. The Brazilian phenom shocked the world when he announced that he would be leaving Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain to become the most expensive transfer in history. Barcelona is definitely still one of the most talented clubs in the world and is able to claim both Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. Even so, the loss of Neymar removes a certain degree of creativity from its attack, and it showed in the first leg of the Super Cup.
Even without Ronaldo Real Madrid remains one of the most dangerous football teams in the world. The first leg of the Super Cup was just further evidence of that. Now that the new season is getting under way the rest of the world should watch out.