Again it went to extra time, as it did in the Champions League finals in Lisbon and Milan, and the UEFA Super Cup final in Tallin. And again, it spelled victory for Madrid, who were better in the penalty shoot-out, but not before.
In general, Atlético enjoyed a tenuous superiority in a game that was quite bland for the first 60 minutes, before it opened up in the last half hour and especially in extra time, where, with everything broken down, it was the most exciting. It was like football of 1970s: rapid circulation around the midfield, very little tactical rigor, lots of shots and frequent saves from the goalkeepers – with the most difficult falling to Courtois, who was decisive in that dramatic final stretch of the match.
Atlético handled Madrid’s five-man midfield
Zidane again opted for five midfielders. But while that surprised Valencia in the semi-final, Simeone had studied the subject and knew how to handle it. His team pressed high, making it difficult for Madrid to get forward. Thus, the five-man midfield were not able to repeat the excellent game they had against Valencia. The only one who came close to playing as well was Valverde, who was chosen as the man of the match.
Atlético had better control of the match hroughout but again they lacked a greater contribution from Joao Félix, whose game looked very pale, particularly when compared to his frontline partners, Correa and Morata.
Zidane made his changes, finishing with a Rodrygo-Mariano-Vinicius attacking trident, while Simeone also ushered in his replacements. And the injection of fresh legs breathed new life into the game. Extra time was fun to watch: Atlético came close to scoring, but Courtois denied them, as he did some minutes later in the penalty shoot-out. So, the trophy went to Madrid and Zidane celebrated a ninth successive final triumph.
Luis Rubiales, the Spanish federation president, can pat himself on the back because the formula has worked. This new-look Super Cup format is better than the old August one, which was rapidly in decline.