Spanish Super Cup: Bilbao Shock Real Madrid, Face Barca In Final 

Athletic Bilbao’s players celebrate after winning the Spanish Super Cup semi final football match against Real Madrid at La Rosaleda stadium in Malaga on January 14, 2021.
JORGE GUERRERO / AFP

 

Real Madrid suffered a shock defeat in the Spanish Super Cup on Thursday as Athletic Bilbao pulled off a 2-1 victory in Malaga to reach Sunday’s final against Barcelona.

Raul Garcia scored twice in the first half, the second a penalty, and while Karim Benzema pulled one back for the defending champions, Bilbao held on to complete a statement win under their new coach Marcelino Garcia Toral.

Bilbao were beaten 3-2 by Barca in La Liga only last week, with Lionel Messi scoring twice at San Mames, yet they will get another shot at Ronald Koeman’s side this weekend, with a trophy up for grabs in Seville.

“We are 90 minutes from winning a title,” said Marcelino. “It would be amazing, and even better to do it beating Real Madrid and Barcelona.”

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Real coach Zinedine Zidane was defiant in defeat.

“It is not a failure,” he said. “You can’t win every game.”

Messi is touch and go to be fit for the final, after missing Wednesday’s penalty shoot-out victory over Real Sociedad with a muscle problem, although even without their captain, Barcelona will be strong favourites.

Bilbao, though, should take huge confidence from an excellent performance at La Rosaleda in what was only their second game under Marcelino, who replaced the sacked Gaizka Garitano earlier this month.

They were also up against a Madrid team that had been unbeaten since December 1, even if a chaotic weekend caused by the heavy snowstorm in Spain might have had lasting effects on players’ minds and bodies.

 

Athletic Bilbao’s Spanish forward Raul Garcia (3R) celebrates with his teammates after scoring during the Spanish Super Cup semi final football match between Real Madrid and Athletic Club Bilbao at La Rosaleda stadium in Malaga on January 14, 2021.
JORGE GUERRERO / AFP

 

Zidane insisted he was not making excuses on Saturday when he criticised the state of the snow-dusted pitch following the goalless draw at Osasuna.

Cancelled flights meant Madrid’s players were unable to leave Pamplona until Monday, forced to fly straight to Malaga without returning home.

But even Zidane admitted on Wednesday that four days preparation was enough and there was little to suggest concern from his line-up given it was his full-strength team, the same core of players that has driven their resurgence since October.

– ‘Start was difficult’ –
“Our start to the game was difficult,” said Zidane afterwards.

“The first half was not good. They had two chances and scored two goals. In the second part we changed the picture, we improved and created chances.”

 

Real Madrid’s French coach Zinedine Zidane talks to the media after the Spanish Super Cup semi final football match between Real Madrid and Athletic Club Bilbao at La Rosaleda stadium in Malaga on January 14, 2021. JORGE GUERRERO / AFP

 

Raul Garcia was sent off after 13 minutes when Real Madrid beat Bilbao in the league last month but this time he had two goals in the first half, each coming after a mistake by Lucas Vazquez.

First, Vazquez gave the ball away cheaply, allowing Raul Garcia to finish past Courtois and then Madrid’s full-back dragged Inigo Martinez down at the back post after letting him sneak in behind him.

Raul Garcia drove the penalty into the top corner and Bilbao might have been three up had Iker Muniain finished off a flowing move by heading in, instead of wide of the post.

Madrid were better after the interval, with Marco Asensio lively. He hit the post from an Eden Hazard pull-back and then the crossbar with a swerving shot from distance.

The pressure told when Fede Valderde’s cross was nodded back for Benzema to tap in, leaving Madrid with just over 10 minutes to find an equaliser.

Benzema thought he had it but the flag was up for offside before Sergio Ramos headed wide and Vinicius Junior curled over in a frantic late surge that Bilbao survived.

AFP

Valverde Given One Match Suspension For Super Cup Red Card

Spanish referee Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez (L) presents a red card to Real Madrid’s Uruguayan midfielder Federico Valverde during the Spanish Super Cup final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid on January 12, 2020, at the King Abdullah Sports City in the Saudi Arabian port city of Jeddah. Giuseppe CACACE / AFP

 

Federico Valverde has been handed a one-match suspension for the late foul that helped Real Madrid win the Spanish Super Cup, the country’s football federation RFEF revealed on Wednesday.

Midfielder Valverde was sent off in the closing stages of extra time in Sunday’s final against local rivals Atletico Madrid when the 21-year-old chopped down Spain striker Alvaro Morata as he charged through on goal.

Real won 4-1 on penalties after the match finished goalless, and Atletico coach Diego Simeone said that Valverde’s foul “was the most important moment of the match”.

The suspension means that Uruguayan Valverde will miss Real’s home match against Sevilla on Saturday.

AFP

Real Beat Atletico On Penalties To Win Spanish Super Cup

Real Madrid players celebrate winning the Spanish Super Cup final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid on January 12, 2020, at the King Abdullah Sports City in the Saudi Arabian port city of Jeddah.
Giuseppe CACACE / AFP

 

Thibaut Courtois proved the hero in a penalty shoot-out on Sunday as Real Madrid beat city rivals Atletico Madrid in Saudi Arabia to win their 11th Spanish Super Cup.

Two imperious goalkeepers came out on top during a goalless final in Jeddah but Courtois proved decisive, saving Thomas Partey’s penalty after Saul Niguez had already hit the post.

Sergio Ramos tucked away the winning spot-kick to ensure Real Madrid clinched their first trophy of the season, with La Liga and the Champions League now next in their sights.

Spanish Super Cup: Atletico Madrid Shock Barcelona To Reach Final

Atletico Madrid’s Spanish midfielder Koke (C) celebrates his goal during the Spanish Super Cup semi final between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid on January 9, 2020, at the King Abdullah Sport City in the Saudi Arabian port city of Jeddah. The winner will face Real Madrid in the final on January 12. Giuseppe CACACE / AFP.

 

Atletico Madrid sprung a surprise in the Spanish Super Cup by staging a thrilling comeback to beat Barcelona 3-2 on Thursday and set up a final against Real Madrid. 

Barca looked on course for a Sunday showdown against Real when they led Atletico 2-1 with nine minutes left but instead it will be a Madrid derby in Saudi Arabia to decide who lifts the trophy.

Saudi Arabia To Host January Spanish Super Cup

 

The Spanish Super Cup will be held in Saudi Arabia and moved to the winter for the next three editions, Spain’s football association (RFEF) announced on Monday.

Jeddah’s King-Abdullah stadium will host the four-team tournament in early January as opposed to its traditional pre-season date in August.

The competition sees La Liga winners Barcelona face Atletico Madrid and Copa del Rey champions Valencia play Real Madrid before a final on January 12.

RFEF president Luis Rubiales said women would be allowed into the ground for the fixtures and the governing body would subsequently help the Saudi Arabian football federation to organise a local league for women.

De facto leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has recently introduced reforms including allowing concerts, reopening cinemas, and lifting a prohibition on women driving.

In December unified heavyweight world champion Andy Ruiz of Mexico will take on Britain’s Anthony Joshua in their rematch in Diriyah as the country attempts to improve its international image.

Spanish Super Cup Won’t Be Decided In First Match, Says Pique

Coach Ernesto Valverde will get his first proper taste of the scorching rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid when the two giants of Spanish soccer meet on Sunday at the Nou Camp in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup.

Barca beat Real 3-2 in a pre-season ‘Clasico’ friendly in Miami in July but the stakes will be far higher in the Super Cup, the annual curtain raiser in Spain between the Liga champions and King’s Cup holders.

The second leg takes place on Wednesday (August 16) in Madrid.

Barca have so far failed in their efforts to spend the 222 million euros Paris St Germain paid them for Neymar, seeing bids rejected for Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele which leave the club racked with doubts before facing a supremely confident Madrid side.

With Paco Alcacer or Gerard Deulofeu as his only options to join Messi and Suarez in a front three, Valverde may stray from the 4-3-3 formation his predecessor Luis Enrique preferred in order to bolster the midfield to counter Real.

Suarez Extends Barcelona Deal With €200m Buy-out Clause

Luis Suarez, Barcelona, BarcaFC Barcelona say that they have reached an agreement with Luis Suarez for the extension of his contract until June 30, 2021.

The buy-out clause in the contract is set at €200m.

The club revealed on its website on Thursday that the new contract would be signed on Friday December 16.

The Uruguayan joined to Barcelona from Liverpool in the summer of 2014.

He has played a total of 116 games in which he has formed a fearsome trio with team mates Lionel Messi and Neymar.

Suarez has scored 97 goals since he signed for the Spanish giants, an average of 0.83 goals per game.

With Barcelona, the 29-year-old has won two league titles, two Copas del Rey, a Champions League, a Spanish Super Cup, a European Super Cup and a FIFA World Club Cup.

Fall Out Of Spanish Super Cup: Simeone Handed Eight Match Ban

simeone
Atletico Coach, Simeone protesting the referee’s decision after he was sent off for tapping the match official on the head.

Atletico Madrid coach, Diego Simeone, has been given an eight-match ban for his conduct in the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup against Real Madrid.

Simeone defensive midfielder, was sent off midway through the first half for complaining that Atletico right-back Juanfran had not been allowed back on to the field quickly enough after receiving treatment for a facial injury during his side’s 2-1 aggregate win over their City rivals

The 44 year old former Argentine player subsequently tapped the fourth official on the back of the head after a heated exchange

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) banned him for four games for that act – two games for protesting, one for applauding a red card and one game for remaining in the stands instead of leaving the stadium after his sending-off.

Simeone subsequently apologised and said he overreacted.

He said: “When you commit an error you have to ask for forgiveness and I accept it was an error. I exaggerated in trying to get Juanfran on”.

Assistant coach, Germán Burgos, will take over from the Argentine while he serves his suspension and he believes his number two will be a capable stand-in.

“German has the capacity and confidence; it gives me peace of mind that we understand football in the same way.

“He will sit on the bench and I will see it from another place”.

This is the second ban that the former Argentina international will get in two months.

Europe governing body, UEFA had handed Simeone a match ban in July, after he charged onto the pitch in the Champions League final tie against city rivals, Real Madrid ,during a verbal clash with Real’s French defender, Raphael Varane.