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Luka Modric and the secret to eternal youth


To be honest I expected more from Athletic in last night’s Super Cup final. Only right at the very end were they close to troubling Real Madrid, and they let slip a chance to put away a penalty which would have at least offered them a chance of taking the game to extra-time. We saw a timid Athletic, who didn’t press high up the pitch like they usually do; instead, they seemed obsessed, not without reason, in not leaving Vinicius space to run into. The result was an overcautious Athletic who didn’t spring into life until the end, when the contest was already decided. The game was bossed, like on so many occasions, by Luka Modric - the selfless playmaker who makes Madrid tick who opened the scoring with a precision strike. It’s crazy to think he’s 36.

Benzema fires home from the spot

His goal came during the only moment when Madrid were left acres of space to run into. The move began down the right with Rodrygo, who had one of his better performances. Athletic regrouped but the Brazilian still managed to scamper his way inside the area then square the ball for Modric, whose first-time strike flew inside the post. The lead was doubled at the start of the second half. A penalty was given after Yeray handled and Benzema stepped up to fire past Unai Simon. It brought up his 16th penalty for Madrid, all of them successfully converted. It’s starting to turn into an impressive registry. Having a penalty specialist like that is no small thing. Athletic don’t have one and it showed.

Marcelo matches Gento

Because Raúl García, who came on in the second half and energised the team, missed his. It was awarded right at the end after another handball, this time Militão was the culprit and he was duly sent off. By that time Madrid were brimming with self-confidence and bolstered by Ancelotti’s switches, but it turned out to be an isolated moment which didn’t spark a late Athletic rally. One of the subs who came on in the final 10 minutes was Marcelo, who had the honour of lifting the trophy. Those few minutes on-field were enough for him to equal Paco Gento’s tally of 23 trophies. It’s a reward for a remarkable career at Real Madrid, which is coming to an end. It’s a feat in itself to pull level with Gento but looking at it more closely, there was no Super Cup in Gento’s day. Of the 23 trophies he won with Madrid, 12 were league titles and six were European Cup triumphs and when you look at it that way, there is no comparison..


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