On the 16th of January, at 21.30, the final of the Spanish Super Cup 2022 took place at the King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Even during the preparatory stage, discussions about the exact location where the last meeting of the teams that reached the final will take place were intense. Representatives of other clubs justly noted that choosing Saudi Arabia as the host country gives Real Madrid and Bayern a noticeable advantage. However, the event organisers did not dare to make such significant changes in the program, and the match was held as planned.
For obvious reasons, the last Super Cup game was postponed from August to January, the middle of the season. However, this only fueled the interest of fans of the finalist teams. In addition, in August, the average air temperature in Saudi Arabia is 34 °C. Even the most recent air conditioning systems are unlikely to cope with such heat.
Betting on football has gone through the roof during the Spanish tournament. In the decisive match for the possession of the Spanish Cup, Real Madrid was the nominated favourite. The approximate odds for the victory of “the meringues” before the start of the match was 54%. Sportsbooks offered to bet on a draw at 27%, and Athletic’s victory was evaluated at 19%.
Despite the fact that the Athletic Club were looked down at even before the start of the game, the team’s head coach was determined to win. This is the second season when the much-coveted title has literally slipped through the fingers of Marcelino’s team. Athletic performed excellently in the 2022 Super Cup. Take the last match with Atletico, for instance; the two goals in the opponent’s net did not were not an accident. In his interview, the head coach wished the players of his team good luck and expressed his acknowledgement of their dedication and fighting spirit.
The victory of Madrid seemed unavoidable even despite the significant changes in the team’s roaster. One day before the match, the administration of the Real Madrid club presented a team’s lineup composition, which did not have the name of the defender David Alaba (knee injury) and midfielder Marco Asensio (on rehabilitation). However, just before the tournament started, Alaba provided the official medical permission to participate in the game. Having missed the match with Barcelona, the player was eager to show his strength in the decisive match. Asensio was less fortunate, and he received a medical discharge for an indefinite period.
The game strategy was determined long before the match started. The miracle did not happen – as befits the favourites, Real Madrid played mainly in the attack and pressure. Athletic are by no means fans of just accepting such games from their opponents, which means that it turned out to be too difficult of a task to withstand such pressure. And there was not a single opportunity to set out on the offensive in the entire 90 minutes.
It is worth noticing the phenomenal physical shape of the two leader’s of the team – Karim Benzema and Luka Modric separately. In the end, they led their team to victory in this championship.
Despite the general dynamic of the game being somewhat slow in the first half, there were a few exciting moments, including the first goal of Luka Modric.
Sancet made an excellent pass to Williams, who was in a good position on the field at the time. But Alaba did not let him try and score. In that situation, the question was whether the defender played with his hand, but the chief referee did not record a violation of the rules.
The ball was being brought into play from the corner, Martinez tried to score with his head, but the ball flew over the post. Ferland Mendy did an effective tackle against Berenguer in the centre of the field and took possession of the ball.
The first half was not without injuries: Berenguer kicked the ball, hitting Toni Kroos in the face. The blow was so powerful that Toni had to leave the field for a while and seek medical help. However, he was back in the game before the first half ended.
At the 38th minute, Real Madrid had a chance to break the match open, and they did not miss it. Rodrygo diverted the attention of several defenders of the opposing team and, rolling the ball slightly to the back, passed it to Luka Modric. The meringues midfielder kicked from the penalty area line. The ball landed in the net.
After that, the match was relatively calm until the end of the first half. Athletic’s defenders and midfielders did everything to prevent Karim Benzema from taking possession of the ball. Oihan Sancet made a powerful diagonal shot at the opponent’s goal at the end of the half. Thibaut Courtois jumped but did not get the ball. It flew over the goalpost, preventing Marcelino’s team from equalising the score.
Athletic made a substitution in the squad: Nico Williams came on the field, and Alex Berenguer watched the second half from the bench.
On the 20th second, Real Madrid tried to get the second goal, but Junior made the ball go well above the crossbar, and the attack turned out to be ineffective.
Bilbao defender Yeray Alvarez confronted Karim Benzema’s attack in his team’s penalty area. In the replay, it is clearly visible that the defender played with his hand. After watching the replay, the chief referee awarded a penalty. Karim Benzema did the penalty kick and rolled the second ball into the goal. Goalkeeper Unai Simon jumped in the ball’s direction but could not reach it.
Shortly before the end of the second half, Athletic’s head coach replaced three players with substitutes: Raul Garcia (Sancet’s substitute), Yuri Berchiche (Balenziaga’s substitute), Mikel Vesga (Zarraga’s substitute).
In the 89th minute, Eder Militao blocked the ball that was flying straight into the net with his hand. After watching the replay, referee Cesar Soto Grado awarded a penalty against Real Madrid, and the defender got a red card. Raul Garcia did the shot from an 11-meter distance. He aimed at the centre while the opposing goalkeeper jumped into the right corner but was able to get the ball out with his right foot.
As a result of two halves, the final match of the Spanish Super Cup 2022 ended with a score of 2:0 in favour of “the meringues”. And this means that the Spanish cup is going to Madrid for the twelfth time.