After the game ended 1-1 after extra time, Real Madrid defeated Valencia on penalties in their Spanish Supercopa semifinal on Wednesday.
In the 39th minute in Riyadh, Madrid took the lead when Karim Benzema converted a penalty after being fouled by Valencia defender Eray Comert. In the first few seconds of the second half, Valencia equalized when Samuel Lino converted Toni Lato’s cross at the far post.
Madrid advanced to Sunday’s final, where they will play either Barcelona or Real Betis after Comert and Jose Gaya both missed from the penalty spot in the shootout.
Madrid entered this competition under duress after their 2-1 LaLiga loss at Villarreal on Saturday caused them to slip three points behind league-leading Barcelona in the fight for the title. David Alaba and Aurelien Tchouameni’s calf ailments didn’t help the atmosphere either. They had a chance to restart their season against a quality but undersized Valencia team on the journey to Saudi Arabia, beginning with this semifinal.
The evening turned out to be long and sometimes frustrating. Even while Madrid never seemed completely at ease throughout the first half, they did have some positive moments when Benzema gave them the lead from the penalty spot. Lino’s equalizer snapped Madrid out of its stupor to open the second half, and Valencia continued to provide issues for the Supercopa holders throughout the second half and into extra time.
A string of unavoidable replacements caused by the injuries to Eduardo Camavinga, Lucas Vazquez, and Eder Militao further upset Madrid’s flow. All in all, the game was unpleasant and was ultimately settled by a penalty shootout, which Madrid won because to their prior success in such high-stress situations.
Both a dependable defense built on a low, compact block and the deadly offensive danger presented by Karim Benzema, Vinicius Junior, and Rodrygo contributed to Madrid’s double-winning triumph last season. Despite the arrival of Antonio Rudiger, a top-notch defender, they appear to have lost some of that consistency and, more concerningly, hunger at the back this season.
The starting defense in this match included Nacho at left-back, Militao and Rudiger at center-back, and the dependable, though rather pedestrian, Vazquez at right-back (Daniel Carvajal was only fit enough to start on the bench). Due to those injuries in the second half, Carvajal and Ferland Mendy—another player who has struggled mightily—were brought in to replace Vazquez and Militao.
Edinson Cavani, a seasoned forward for Valencia, continually created issues. With a header in the first half that Thibaut Courtois expertly stopped, he ought to have performed better. Poor defense led to Valencia’s equalizer, with Vazquez being outmuscled by Lino at the far post and Nacho leaving Lato too much room to swing in his cross. In extra time, Courtois had to work even more miracles.
Of course, it’s not just about the defense. You ponder whether the squad is lacking Casemiro’s defensive fortification from before he joined Manchester United. Toni Kroos did his best in this situation as a holding midfielder, but it isn’t where he prefers to play.
Although Benzema has had a stop-start, injury-plagued season, there were enough moments here to suggest that he isn’t far off the level Madrid needs him to be at if the squad is to contend for titles this year. A first-half stepover and nutmeg combo that allowed Benzema to sneak past Comert inside the box without pausing his stride stood out as a particularly impressive display of talent.
The Benzema rush in behind that Militao noticed resulted in Comert’s clumsy foul and the penalty that Madrid calmly converted to take the lead. After a stunning one-two with Rodrygo in the second half, Benzema performed a number of additional tricks and flicks before participating in the shootout. His fluid economy of movement makes him one of football’s most entertaining players to watch.
Benzema has a stellar goal-scoring record in this tournament. He has six Spanish Supercopa goals, which are only surpassed by Lionel Messi and Raul Gonzalez (both with seven) (with 14). He now has the opportunity to catch up to Raul, if not surpass him, in the Sunday final.