The Face Of Defeat: Manchester United 1 Real Madrid 2

The Uefa Super Cup is still the one trophy
that is not part of the Jose Mourinho
collection but even a man who takes defeat
as badly as him might regard this one at the
hands of the best team in Europe as a lesson
worth learning as he approaches his critical
second season at Old Trafford.

This Real Madrid side are one of the great
teams of the 21 century, and there were
times in the game when it looked like it
might take another generation for United to
catch them, never mind within the scope of
time the current manager might have at the
club. Yet when it seemed like United could
find themselves on the end of debilitating
scoreline they recovered to make a game of

Their goal was from Romelu Lukaku after
the new striker had missed another chance
that might have flattened his confidence. On
the left side, Marcus Rashford, a second half
substitute gave the team a new burst of life.
Paul Pogba was relentless in forcing his way
back into the game and although United
could not quite retrieve it against the
masters of European football, they did adapt
and evolve and almost take it to extra-time.
In the end, Madrid had taken too much of the
game, with goals from Casemiro and Isco and
a performance that was at times breathtaking
until they started to wilt when Lukaku scored
after the hour. United had a claim that the
first goal was offside but in the end it was
the better team that won this trophy for the
third time in four years

The champions of Europe three times in the
last four years and a team at the top, or at
least near, the arch of their development – it
should not be underestimated how hard it is
playing against Real Madrid. Mourinho’s
team might have hoped to catch the
Champions League winners cold with
Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench and no
notable summer signings apart from Theo
Hernandez, who was also a substitute.

Yet the Madrid of 2017 are quite capable of
turning it on when they want and although
United had their moments in the first half
they were more of the hectic variety,
openings that closed off suddenly. Zinedine
Zidane’s side on the other hand, exerted a
slow deadly grip on the game around the half
hour mark, with a sequence of passes that
moved United gradually and inexorably
backwards towards their own goal.

That was the most impressive feature of the
first half, even considering Casemiro’s goal, a
period of dominance which showcased the
quality throughout Madrid’s team. They have
players who can pass and retain the ball all
over the pitch and, superstars though they
might all be, they have a keen sense of where
their team-mates are. 

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