Zinedine Zidane’s men came good yet again with a major prize at stake to show they have moved on since the Portuguese left Los Blancos back in 2013.
Real Madrid have done it again. Despite an indifferent pre-season in which they failed to win a single match on tour in the United States, Los Blancos have kicked off the new campaign with yet another trophy by beating Manchester United 2-1 in the UEFA Super Cup.
Jose Mourinho was right: Real really are on another level.
Madrid met United in California last month in a match that finished 1-1, with the Premier League side prevailing in a comical penalty shootout, but before that match, the Portuguese manager said: “You try to compensate the difference in quality with a certain tactical organisation and with that you can win in football.
“It’s possible a team is on a certain day better than the sum of the parts. But the parts are amazing, their relation with the ball is amazing. So, we try not to compare ourselves to them.”
It seems something of a defeatist argument from a coach who has won it all at club level, especially considering his United side cost more than the one fielded by counterpart Zinedine Zidane in the UEFA Super Cup on Tuesday in Skopje.
According to Marca , United’s XI for this match in Macedonia was bought for a total of €413 million, while Madrid’s cost €273m – and that included €100m on Gareth Bale alone.
On the pitch, however, it was Madrid who looked more comfortable than their rivals – even with Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench.
It was no vintage showing either from the European champions. Casemiro’s opening goal was marginally offside, while Romelu Lukaku missed a couple of great chances for United.
But Mourinho’s earlier assessment was correct – Real have better players and are simply slicker with the ball at their feet.
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It was not so long ago that Mourinho was being touted for a possible return to the Santiago Bernabeu. When Carlo Ancelotti was axed in the summer of 2015, the Portuguese was one of the names in the frame before Rafa Benitez was appointed as coach and he was mentioned again when the Spaniard was sacked in January last year.
But Real have moved on since then. And that was perhaps summed up as Sergio Ramos was told that his former coach had said how the defender had never played a Champions League quarter-final before his arrival at the club in 2010.
“It’s true what he said,” Ramos replied. “When he arrived, we started to get past the quarter-finals and now we have won three Champions Leagues.” Indeed. And two of those have come in the past two seasons, with Zidane as coach.
The former France great now has six trophies in his brief time as Madrid boss, twice the number won by Mourinho in his three-year tenure at the Bernabeu. And in classic Jose style, the Portuguese gave away his runners-up medal after this match.
“They had a period of dominancy in the first half,” Mourinho – who has never beaten Madrid in a competitive match – said after the game. “We had a period of dominancy in the second half. We gave them a good fight. My boys leave disappointed but optimistic and proud.”