Marco Asensio continues to announce arrival in dominant Real showing
Real Madrid racked up a comprehensive 5-1 aggregate scoreline in the Spanish Super Cup with a 2-0 victory in the Bernabeu on Wednesday to lift a second title in 2017-18, as Zinedine Zidane's side attempt to pull off an unprecedented single-season sextuple. Marco Asensio added another belter to his opening-leg strike, and Karim Benzema scored a pure striker's goal to hand Madrid victory.
Real reduced Barca to one shot in the first half and Ernesto Valverde to stunned despair on the touchline in the second in a convincing all-round performance. Not since the famous Manita in 2010-11 (with a nod to Rafa Benitez's sole Clasico) has the distance between the eternal rivals looked as skewed toward Madrid as it did over these 180 minutes.
Zidane's side switched off in the opening 10 minutes of the second half and committed a couple of defensive lapses, one of which let Lionel Messi in to hammer the underside of the bar.
Manager rating out of 10
9 -- Zidane sent his side out to swarm over Barca from the whistle, rattling the visitors and achieving his objective of an early goal. In the second half, Real defended cohesively in numbers when the August heat took its toll. The Real boss has stressed that he is coaching a squad, not just a first XI, and the side he selected carried out his plan to the letter.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Keylor Navas, 8 -- Did well to smother the ball at Messi's feet in the first half and made a good low stop on a dangerous Luis Suarez cross after the break. Two saves on Sergi Roberto and Messi in quick succession showed Navas is sharp going into the new season.
DF Dani Carvajal, 8 -- A live wire in the early exchanges and defensively on the ball throughout, Carvajal recovered possession on several occasions and was still bombing up and down his flank in stoppage time. Irreplaceable in Zidane's setup.
DF Sergio Ramos, 9 -- The captain was everywhere at the back, getting his head and boot to several vital blocks, not the least of which came under his own crossbar with Suarez shaping for a simple tap-in. When others were flagging, Ramos had energy left in the tank to chase down substitute Gerard Deulofeu in the closing stages.
DF Raphael Varane, 8 -- His speed lends Madrid an extra layer of protection when the defence pushes up, and he had the measure of Suarez throughout, putting in a team-high five tackles. His mistake led to Messi hitting the bar, but that was an isolated incident in a commanding display.
DF Marcelo, 7 -- Bagged an assist for Benzema's goal and provided a constant threat on the left in a typically energetic performance spent largely in Barca's half. Other than a quick siesta to allow Nelson Semedo to give him the slip, he was solid on the back foot as well.
MF Luka Modric, 9 -- Out of the blocks quickly, always seeking the ball, the Croatian masterminded Real's midfield superiority, harrying the opposition and picking out a range of passes beyond the vision of most players.
MF Mateo Kovacic, 8 -- Handed a start after his excellent first leg, Kovacic stuck to Messi when the Barca No. 10 dropped deep, and he was energetic and incisive going forward. Afforded a well-deserved ovation when substituted, Kovacic has earned his place as one of 15 or 16 starters in Zidane's side.
MF Toni Kroos, 8 -- A quietly efficient performance from Kroos, who bossed the midfield with minimum fuss and fired in his full complement of set pieces, one of which Ramos came close to nodding home.
FW Lucas Vazquez, 7 -- The key player in Zidane's high-tempo pressing blueprint, Vazquez robbed the ball off a Barca boot to start the move for Real's second and smashed the woodwork with a fine strike in a good all-round showing.
FW Karim Benzema, 8 -- The Frenchman's best game in a while. Took his goal expertly and was full of running, linking up well with Asensio in particular. Only Suarez had more shots, and only Varane and Javier Mascherano made more tackles.
FW Marco Asensio, 9 -- His glorious, impudent strike left Marc-Andre ter Stegen rooted to the spot set Madrid on their way. A lovely no-look lay-off for Benzema in the second half suggested a budding partnership, and Asensio nicked a few balls as well. Received a huge ovation when taken off.
MF Casemiro, 7 -- On for Kovacic with half an hour to play, the Brazilian enjoyed a lively tussle with Roberto in a typically boisterous showing.
DF Theo Hernandez, NR -- On for Asensio for the final 15 minutes, he was fortunate to escape censure for a trip on Semedo in the area, but the former Atletico man and Marcelo showed a few flashes of what Madrid can expect this season when they're in tandem.
MF Dani Ceballos, NR -- On for Kroos with 10 to play, Ceballos didn't see much of the ball but looked assured on it when he did.
Rob Train covers Real Madrid and the Spanish national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Cafc13Rob.