Real Madrid Sergio Ramos Raphael Varane 6/10 as defensive Achilles heel rears head

Craig Burley explains how the absences of Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo seemed to embolden Atletico Madrid in their UEFA Super Cup triumph.

Atletico Madrid lifted the UEFA Super Cup in Tallinn with a 4-2 victory powered by the brute force of Diego Costa. Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos scored inside the 90 minutes, but in a reverse of the 2014 Champions League final, Atletico outgunned a fading Real in extra time.


The high-tempo press Julen Lopetegui is aiming to instill showed signs of promise, an Atletico corner towards the end of the first half winding up down the other end, at Jan Oblak’s feet. Marco Asensio, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema looked sharp on the eve of the season and Real controlled the first half before the cracks of a long summer started to show.


It took less than a minute for Real’s ever-present Achilles’ heel to be exposed, a looping ball forward bamboozling both Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane. Two World Cup winners should be able to deal with a hit-and-hope, even if Costa is their adversary. A failure to capitalise on early dominance in extra time cost Real, and defensive errors throughout were ruthlessly punished.

Manager rating out of 10

6 — Lopetegui has a clear idea of how he wants to play, and his front three constantly switching positions will terrorise less-sturdy back fours. The former Spain boss’ changes were suspect, though; taking Asensio off before the hour mark with Isco labouring robbed Real of an effective first line of defence, while Vinicius, who would have provided a timely spark, was confined to the bench.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Keylor Navas, 5 — Not the ideal start to his impending contest with Thibaut Courtois, conceding at his near post in the first minute and shipping four in all. Navas made only one save, from Angel Correa, and couldn’t do much about the other three goals. Courtois won half the fight in Tallinn without lifting a glove.

DF Dani Carvajal, 7 — Defensively the sharpest of the back four, the indefatigable right-back is already at full throttle. Nicked the ball of Costa’s boot to prevent a clear chance but lost out in a one-on-one that resulted in Atletico’s fourth in an otherwise assured performance.

DF Raphael Varane, 6 — Failed to read the lines on Costa’s first goal and pulled out of a challenge that might have spared Navas’ blushes. Hustled off the ball in the build-up to Atletico’s third as fatigue set in but generally classy between the first minute and the 98th.

DF Sergio Ramos, 6 — Beaten easily by Costa for the opener and lucky to escape a caution for an elbow on the Spain forward in a spirited battle between the old antagonists. Slotted home his penalty coolly, sending Oblak the wrong way.

DF Marcelo, 5 — Lively going forward in the opening exchanges but pinned back in the second half. His bizarre decision to hook what would have been a Real throw over his head led directly to Atletico’s second and, with his teammates flagging, eventual defeat.

MF Casemiro, 6 — Pick-pocketed in his own half and sent two stray passes to a red-and-white shirt with Real exposed to the break in the opening half. Although clearly rusty, did well to prevent Costa squeezing off a shot and charged down an Antoine Griezmann effort. Off on 75 minutes with a muscle problem, he still managed more tackles than any player on either side.

MF Toni Kroos, 6 — Rolled up his sleeves but without Luka Modric by his side failed to exert any genuine influence. That he was second to Casemiro in the tackling stakes underlines his effort to wrest control of the midfield.

MF Isco, 5 — So off the pace it was a surprise he lasted as long as he did. Like his midfield partners, got stuck in but generally to recover a ball he had lost. Isco is supremely gifted, but fitness coach Antonio Pintus has his work cut out to get the Spaniard up to the speed Lopetegui requires.

FW Gareth Bale, 7 — The assist for Benzema, accelerating away from Lucas Hernandez and hitting a perfect cross on his weaker foot, was vintage Bale. Full of running and a constant threat until his legs went, on the evidence of the preseason he is in line for his finest Bernabeu campaign to date — if he can remain injury-free.

FW Marco Asensio, 7 — Drew a sprawling save from Oblak with a clever flick and narrowly missed a post after bursting from his own half in a performance that suggests a certain Portuguese won’t be missed for long.

FW Karim Benzema, 7 — Turned in Bale’s cross for the equaliser and stretched Atletico’s defence, drifting wide and linking up in the middle. Led Juanfran a merry dance to win a penalty and ran himself into the turf in extra time.


MF Luka Modric, 6 — On for Asensio, lent some pause to the midfield but still far from match-ready after his Golden Ball exploits in Russia.

MF Dani Ceballos, 5 — On for Casemiro, he offers a different skill set but picked up a yellow for flattening Correa and gave the ball away on the halfway line facilitating a dangerous break at 4-2 down.

FW Lucas Vazquez, NR — On for Isco, immediately injected his standard energy but was kept quiet by Hernandez.

FW Borja Mayoral, NR — On for Kroos in extra time, showed plenty of willing but saw little of the ball.