At the King Abdullah Sports City on Wednesday night, Real Madrid was missing leading goalscorer Karim Benzema and signing of the summer Eden Hazard. Zinedine Zidane did not flinch as he rolled out a 4-3-2-1 formation that tore apart Valencia en route to a 3-1 victory.
Real Madrid should be overjoyed with the showing of both the boss and the five midfielders he elected to start in the Supercopa semifinal. In the deeper of the two midfield lines, Zizou started Casemiro with breakout player of the year Fede Valverde and Toni Kroos flanking him.
Playing in a more advanced and free flowing position, Isco and Luka Modric over powered Valencia CDM Geoffrey Kondogbia and helped their team finish the match with nearly 62 percent of the possession.
And, without Hazard, Benzema, Marcelo, or Gareth Bale on the pitch, it was three of these five midfielders who scored three stunning goals.
Further, all five of these players that Zidane started finished with a match rating of 7.3 or better – Isco finished with the Man of the Match rating of 9.2 – proving once again that Los Blancos have the best and deepest midfield in the world.
Now heading into the Supercopa final against cross town rivals Atletico, Real needs to be wary of the way Diego Simeone’s men play and hit on the counter attack.
Atleti was thoroughly outplayed by FC Barcelona in the second semifinal of the Supercopa on Thursday – Barca finished the match with nearly 73 percent of possession – but were caught out on counter attacking plays from Atleti which saw three goals find the back of the net.
Real Madrid will dominate the possession much like Barca did, but they must do a better job testing Jan Oblak in goal. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see these five in-form midfielders start on Sunday night, but Modric and Isco must be more proactive pushing forward.
Without Bale and Benzema once again, Luka Jovic will have a very difficult time breaking down the disciplined Atleti back line. He must have support from his midfielders or possibly from his wingers if Zizou elects to play Rodrygo Goes.
In the first meeting between these two back in September, the match ended in a 0-0 draw with neither side able to create any threatening chances. Expect a very different outcome in this cup final.