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[UEFA SUPER CUP 2017: FIVE THINGS WE LEARNT]

Manchester United were defeated by Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup at Skopje, Macedonia. The English side were put down by goals from Casemiro and Isco but halved the deficit through £75 million signing, Romelu Lukaku. Here are five things we learnt from the game.

Real Madrid miles ahead of Manchester United
The 2-1 score line flatters United as Real Madrid could easily have made it three or four. The Spanish side didn’t seem to go full throttle on Manchester United and still dominated the exchanges. Though Manchester United had brief spells staying toe-to toe with the UEFA Champions League winners, Madrid showed for large parts why they still are the side to beat in Europe.

Isco will be important for Real Madrid
The former Malaga midfielder could have been considered the shining star of Real Madrid ‘B’ last season as he couldn’t get a sustained place in the starting lineup of the Los Blancos. The skilful midfielder asides scoring the goal that made a difference was pivotal in knitting play together, popping up in spaces between the lines to receive balls on the turn.

The Spaniard was limited to 18 starts and 12 substitute appearances. Of the 18 starts, Isco was substituted off 13 times. His showing from last season allied with his continued brilliance displayed in the match indicates the midfielder will be very crucial to the Real Madrid side.

Matic might be the steal of the season for £40 million
It’s a bit premature, true, but on the strength of Matic’s showing, Jose Mourinho might have invested the best piece £40 million he had. The Serbian not just acted as a foil for Paul Pogba, he showed his quality on the ball besting Paul Pogba as Manchester United’s best player on the night. He kept thing simple, won four tackles and had a pass accuracy of 88%.

Pogba needs to do more
With Manchester United on the break with three players against two Real Madrid defenders, it was puzzling that Paul Pogba elected to shoot from about 30 yards when Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jese Lingard were in space and better positioned. The Frenchman didn’t show enough quality on the ball, barely creating enough chances for Romelu Lukaku to convert. The midfielder lost possession too cheaply sometimes and was not half as dominant and incisive as expected of him. Going forward, the midfielder has to do more considering he has been relieved of some defensive responsibilities by the effective Matic.

Casemiro deserves his place in the Madrid squad
Casemiro’s game high-five tackles and two interceptions and ten duels won tells about his indispensability to Real Madrid. Throw in the knack to score goals in important games then you catch the drift: Champions League final, Super Cup final, Barcelona, Napoli… The Brazilian has been the rock on which Madrid’s midfield stand, shielding, scraping and scruffing. Being the less showy of his midfield partners, the 25-year-old hardly gets credit for his works but his goal and his consistent hard work in the midfield has seen Europe give him his due.


The Guardian

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