Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid: Winners and Losers from Super Cup 1st Leg
The first competitive match of the Spanish 2014-15 domestic season took place on Tuesday evening as Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid fought out the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup.
After a quiet match finally sprung to life in the final 10 minutes, James Rodriguez and Raul Garcia scored the goals to leave the tie finely poised after a 1-1 draw.
There might not have been a winner on the night, but as ever, we take a deeper look at what went on and see who came out on top in the individual battles, the tactical set-ups and more with the winners and losers.
Loser: James Rodriguez
The game hadn't even kicked off when we could pick the first loser. Real Madrid have a mighty squad this season with tremendous depth and with only 11 on the field at once, one massive star is always going to be left out.
For the Super Cup it was the turn of new signing James Rodriguez to be left out, with Luka Modric and Toni Kroos being joined by Xabi Alonso in the starting lineup.
Sami Khedira, meanwhile, wasn't even on the bench.
Winner: James Rodriguez
Err...yeah. A pretty quick swing for James.
After sitting on the bench for 45 minutes, the Colombian entered the fray at half-time in place of Cristiano Ronaldo, playing the second half in the front line of three and appearing on either flank.
Though he initially struggled to get on the ball and impact the slow tempo of the game, it was James who popped up with 10 minutes to go to finally break the deadlock and hit a deflected shot past Atletico goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya.
It wasn't the winner, but it was as good an introduction as he could have hoped for.
Winners: The 'Backup' Goalkeepers
Real and Atletico have spent around a combined £25 million on new goalkeepers this summer, with Keylor Navas and Jan Oblak expected to be the No. 1 keeper for each team this season.
However, the first leg of the Super Cup saw the other goalkeeper of each squad take to the field: World Cup winner Iker Casillas for Real and Miguel Angel Moya, formerly of Mallorca and Getafe, for Atleti.
The downside, of course, was that neither managed to keep a clean sheet despite not really being troubled for most of the match.
Loser: Sergio Ramos
Nobody had a stand-out terrible game on the night, but Real Madrid's centre-back Sergio Ramos was probably as poor as it got.
In the first half he mis-controlled a simple ball and let Saul Niguez in for a shot on goal, before earning himself a yellow card for retaliating to a Mario Mandzukic aerial challenge.
He blazed Real Madrid's best chance of the game at the time over the bar, a free kick from 20 yards, before finally getting nowhere near the corner which zoomed past him in the final minutes, where Raul Garcia met it totally unmarked in the six-yard box to equalise.
All told, a pretty bad night for Ramos.
Winner: Diego Simeone
Diego Simeone watched on from his technical area, prowling and pointing as he is wont to do, instructing his side and berating the officials whenever a decision went against his team.
Despite losing key players Filipe Luis, Diego Costa and Thibaut Courtois over the summer, Simeone would have been delighted to see his team, with several new signings in place, look just as difficult to beat as his team was last term.
Atletico were organised in their own half, worked tremendously hard off the ball and popped up with enough attacking threat at the end to find a way back into the tie after falling behind late on.
Loser: Anybody Who Switched off After 79 Minutes of Poor Fare
Sitting through the first half, fans must have hoped for better fare in the second 45 minutes after neither side really played with enough tempo or attacking intent to warrant taking the lead in the Super Cup first leg.
The next half-hour or so was largely more of the same. With a second leg to go to decide matters, you couldn't really be surprised if a number of people opted to switch off and give up the first leg as a bad job—especially considering the game didn't end until close to 1 a.m. local time.
If you did switch off around the 75th-80th minutes though...bad luck. The final 10 were incident-packed, saw two goals and a clear-cut hand-ball penalty decision waved away, a far cry from the previous 80 which were notable only for a rash of yellow cards.
The second leg is just days away and fans will hope for more of the same from the latter stages of the first leg.