It’s a minor trophy, but it’s still the first of the season, one that saw Real Madrid pick up where it left off. After claiming the club’s 10th European title in May, Carlo Ancelotti’s team collected it’s first honor of the 2014-15 campaign, getting two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo in a 2-0 win over Europa League champions Sevilla in Cardiff City, Wales.
Ronaldo, showing no effects from the tendinosis problem that plagued him this summer, broke through after a half hour of Madrid control, running onto a Gareth Bale cross to volley home from just inside the six-yard box. Four minutes into the second half, the Portuguese star had his second – a left-footed finish blasted through Beto’s hands after Karim Benzema fed him into the left of the penalty area.
Despite that two-goal lead, Real Madrid maintained their control, finishing the match with 59 percent possession and a 19-12 edge in shots (7-3, n target). With new signings James Rodríguez and Toni Kroos starting in the middle, Carlo Ancelotti’s team showed an ability to be as patient as it is persuasive, with the marauding play of Ronaldo and Bale giving way over the final half hour to a more measured perspective.
Come stoppage time, Sevilla finally started to make progress, earning back-to-back corner kicks in the match’s 91st minute. By that time, the drama had long played out, with he Merengues’ intensity waning as the game approached its final whistle. With the 2-0 win, Real Madrid claimed its third Super Cup.
Holding Sevilla to those two shots on target, the Merengues provided a bleak view on the coming Spanish season. Though we’re used to the circuit being top-heavy, we’re not accustomed to a world where the league’s third-placed team adds players like Rodríguez and Kroos. Though some may doubt whether Sevilla presented an adequate point of reference, the Rojiblancos did finish fifth in last year’s Liga. Last year’s Europa League showed the talent that comes with that placing.
As the upper echelon of Europe’s clubs continues to accumulate talent, traditions like today’s may become unfortunate anachronisms. Though the Champions League winners has lost five of the last 11 Super Cups, this year’s match provided a glimpse of a growing divide. In years after a Champions League team drops into Europa because of a tough group, the Super Cup could provide drama, but today, it only provided ceremony.
At least for one year, the divide was too large to give us a competitive game. Real Madrid has won its latest honor.