Real Madrid put on a dominant display as they reached the final of the Spanish Super Cup, overwhelming Valencia 3-1 on the strength of goals by Toni Kroos, Isco and Luka Modric.
The Blancos, who qualified for this expanded four-team tournament by virtue of their third-place finish in the 2018-2019 La Liga, showed the strides they have made since these squads’ hard-fought draw three weeks ago in Spanish-league action at Mestalla Stadium on Wednesday night in Valencia, reports Efe news.
With wingers Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale and striker Karim Benzema all unavailable due to injury, head coach Zinedine Zidane opted for a midfielder-heavy line-up featuring Casemiro, Federico Valverde, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Isco at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium.
The move proved to be a master-stroke, as Real Madrid dominated possession and put Valencia on their heels from the outset.
Valencia, who booked their place in the tournament by winning last season’s Copa del Rey, also contributed to their troubles with defensive blunders and an apparent lack of concentration.
A prime example was the opening goal of the match when Kroos saw that Valencia goalie Jaume was out of position and fired a curling corner kick that the scrambling netminder was unable to keep from going over the line in minute 16.
Although Real Madrid was clearly the better side over the first half-hour, the two teams still could have been locked at 1-1 had Kevin Gameiro not failed to convert a golden opportunity in the 28th minute on a shot that sailed over the crossbar.
That missed chance proved costly when Real Madrid doubled their lead against an out-of-sorts Valencia club in the 39th minute.
On the play, Ezequiel Garay managed to block a shot by Modric, but Isco gathered the rebound and slotted the ball just inside the post past Jaume.
Real Madrid then had a golden opportunity to add to their lead two minutes later when Valencia’s goalie saved a shot by Luka Jovic after an Isco header had clanked off the upright.
Zidane’s men continued to dominate in the second half and eventually made the score 3-0 in the 66th minute when Modric fired a shot with the outside of his cleat that entered the goal inside the far post past a diving Jaume.
Valencia finally got on the board when the contest was well out of reach.
After a VAR review determined that the ball had touched Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos’ hand in the box, Dani Parejo converted the ensuing penalty chance in second-half stoppage time.
Next up for Real Madrid in Sunday’s final at this same venue will be 2018-2019 La Liga champion FC Barcelona or 2018-2019 La Liga runner-up Atletico Madrid, who will square off in the second semifinal on Thursday night. There will be no third-place game.
Until this edition, the Spanish Super Cup had been a one-match event pitting the top performers in the previous season’s La Liga and Copa del Rey competitions.