Blog

Barcelona and Real Madrid aim to lure the star striker to Spain this summer

Manchester City are expected to sign Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, according to a new report mentioning that Barcelona and Real Madrid are likely to lure the Leeds-born forward with a move to La Liga at the top of their summer transfer plans put top of his transfer plans. (Author: Gardener)

Real MadridManchester City are expected to sign Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, according to a new report mentioning that Barcelona and Real Madrid are likely to lure the Leeds-born forward with a move to La Liga at the top of their summer transfer plans put top of his transfer plans. After the 21-year-old publicly revealed last week that Borussia Dortmund was "pushing" him to make a decision about his post-summer future soon, speculation surrounding Haaland's future at Signal Iduna Park is not expected to die down anytime soon. With the former Red Bull Salzburg star's £64m release clause set to take effect in the summer, Manchester City are expected to be at the forefront of signing one of the most sought-after strikers in world football. According to the latest information from Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano, Sky Blues are said to be 'looking' for a striker in the summer with Erling Haaland said to be high on their priority list. It was further explained that the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid will also lure the Borussia Dortmund shooter with a potential move to Spain, with the latter currently seen as a leading contender in the race for Haaland's signature. Following Sergio Aguero's departure from the club last season, Ferran Torres' recent return to Spanish football hasn't helped solve Manchester City's striker problems this season. Whether Erling Haaland will become a Manchester City player in the summer only time will tell, but how ideal the move looks on paper for everyone involved is certainly out of the question.

Read

Barcelona and Real Madrid aim to lure the star striker to Spain this summer

Manchester City are expected to sign Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, according to a new report mentioning that Barcelona and Real Madrid are likely to lure the Leeds-born forward with a move to La Liga at the top of their summer transfer plans put top of his transfer plans. (Author: Gardener)

Real MadridErling Haaland's future remains the biggest talking point in world football as a number of Europe's top clubs line up to stake their respective claims on the Norway international's arrival. After the 21-year-old publicly revealed last week that Borussia Dortmund was "pushing" him to make a decision about his post-summer future soon, speculation surrounding Haaland's future at Signal Iduna Park is not expected to die down anytime soon. With the former Red Bull Salzburg star's £64m release clause set to take effect in the summer, Manchester City are expected to be at the forefront of signing one of the most sought-after strikers in world football. It was further explained that the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid will also lure the Borussia Dortmund shooter with a potential move to Spain, with the latter currently seen as a leading contender in the race for Haaland's signature. Following Sergio Aguero's departure from the club last season, Ferran Torres' recent return to Spanish football hasn't helped solve Manchester City's striker problems this season. Whether Erling Haaland will become a Manchester City player in the summer only time will tell, but how ideal the move looks on paper for everyone involved is certainly out of the question.

Read

Athletic Club 0-2 Real Madrid

Real Madrid defeated Athletic Club 2-0 in the 2022 Spanish Supercup final to claim their 12th Supercup trophy. Goals from Luka Modrić and Karim Benzema secured Ancelotti's side the title. (Author: Gardener)

Athletic ClubThe King of Cups has been crowned again. After two seasons in which Barça failed to win the Copa del Rey title, Ronald Koeman's side have clinched victory in the final for the 31st time in FC Barcelona's history, beating Athletic Club 4-0 at the stadium La Cartuja in...Read more

Read

Ten-man Real Madrid defeated Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Super Cup final

Goals in both halves from Luka Modric and Karim Benzema and a superb penalty save from Thibaut Courtois propelled Real Madrid to the Spanish Super Cup despite Eder Militao's red card late in the second half. (Author: Gardener)

Super CupGoals in both halves from Luka Modric and Karim Benzema and a superb penalty save from Thibaut Courtois propelled Real Madrid to the Spanish Super Cup despite Eder Militao's red card late in the second half.

Read

Real Madrid win their 12th Super Cup title

Real Madrid win their 12th Supercup title as goals from Luka Modric and Karim Benzema secure victory over Athletic Bilbao in Saudi Arabia. (Author: Gardener)

12thReal Madrid won their 12th Supercup title as goals from Luka Modric and Karim Benzema secured a win over Athletic Bilbao in Saudi Arabia. Benzema then made it 2-0 from the penalty spot after the video assistant referee awarded a penalty for handball. The striker's shot had caught Yeray Alvarez, whose arms were raised in the block. Real were also penalized late for a handball when Eder Militao was sent off for blocking a shot and Bilbao were awarded a penalty. However, keeper Thibaut Courtois made an excellent save to keep Raul Garcia away with his leg to ensure Athletic, who won the trophy last year, did not make a late comeback. The victory means Real join rivals Barcelona's record tally of 13 Supercup titles.

Read

What Karim Benzema, Vinicius Junior and Co. can expect from Marcelino's men

The finals are on Sunday, and these two teams know a thing or two about winning this trophy (Author: Gardener)

Karim BenzemaReal Madrid go into the 2021-22 Spanish Super Cup final as big favorites against Athletic Club and it's easy to see why. Los Blancos lead La Liga, they play like Champions League contenders and on the other side is the Bilbao club, who are drifting around midfield in the Spanish top flight and are looking for some form of consistency. But that's unlikely to be an easy task for Carlo Ancelotti's men if Marcelino has his team prepared and on the same page. But he eventually broke through and won his first major silver prize, taking home the Copa del Rey with Valencia in 2019, beating Lionel Messi and Barcelona. Since then, that experience has continued with the Cup final, losing the Copa del Rey final in 2020 and losing again in 2021 (somewhat confusingly, those two losses came within two weeks thanks to COVID-19 scheduling complications) before taking the Spaniards with them took home Super Cup last season. With a 2-2 record in the final, Marcelino always makes his team compete and can be difficult to break. This is what Real Madrid need to prepare for: Marcelino isn't worried about possession. In their last two La Liga victories against Osasuna and Real Betis, they lost the possession battle with 43% and 43.9% of passes respectively, but secured the points. In fact, they've only won both the possession battle and the game twice all season. Keeping the ball in front of Real is practically impossible unless you are Bayern Munich or Manchester City, for example. Real have had more possession in 14 of their last 15 games and Marcelino will tell his team to prioritize defense rather than aim for control of the ball. With fast players like Inaki Williams and his brother Nico, Athletic will aim to get the ball out of their back quickly and bring it forward over the toe or down the flanks. This transition from defense to attack is something this team often does well and with Real often pushing so many players up front, that's where they may have their best chances. Athletic tries to put the ball purposefully into the penalty area. In fact, 69.6% of their shots come from inside the box, the second-highest total in La Liga, ahead of Real Madrid who manage just 61.6%. Real Madrid will be confident in defending any set piece, especially with the towering goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. All Real has to do is look to Athletic's semi-final win over Atleti, where they came from behind and scored from two corner kicks. Not only do Real need to be sharp on the first ball, but they also need to avoid Atleti's mistake of not closing on second chances. Athletic average 4.1 shots per game from dead-ball situations (free-kicks, corners and throw-ins), which is the most in La Liga. Athletic take a lot of shots from set pieces, but only 36.8% of those shots are headers. There are 11 other teams in Spain that concede a higher percentage of set pieces with their heads. When it comes to set pieces Athletic are just as likely to get on their feet adeptly and beat you that way.

Read

How to watch the Spanish Super Cup final

Real Madrid meet holders Athletic Bilbao in the final of the Spanish Super Cup. (Author: Gardener)

the Spanish Super CupThe four-team Spanish Supercup tournament concludes on Sunday when Real Madrid take on Athletic Bilbao in the league game. How to Watch Real Madrid vs Live Stream Real Madrid vs The Spanish Super Cup is a tournament that pits the winners and runners-up of the Copa del Rey and La Liga against each other. Since expanding to four teams, Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao are the two teams that win the tournament. In total, Real Madrid have 11 titles and five second places, while Athletic Bilbao have three titles and finished second twice. In order to reach this year's final, Real Madrid first had to get past Barcelona. It took extra time for Real Madrid to walk away with a 3-2 win. Athletic Bilbao defeated Atletico Madrid in the semifinals by a 2-1 margin and overcame a 1-0 deficit with two late goals. In the 77th minute, Yeray equalized, followed by the game-winner a few minutes later by Nico Williams. These teams last met in La Liga competition in December, with Real Madrid winning. In fact, Real Madrid have won the last three meetings of these teams. Athletic Bilbao beat Real Madrid in the semifinals of the Super Cup last year but haven't played in La Liga since 2015.

Read

Real Madrid win Supercopa

Things looked mixed for some of Europe's biggest clubs at the weekend, but Manchester City and Bayern Munich edged closer to the league title. (Author: Gardener)

Real MadridIt was a mixed fortune for some of Europe's biggest clubs over the weekend, with Real Madrid clinching the title and Manchester United struggling more on and off the pitch. Meanwhile, there were Copa del Rey controversies and victories that pushed Manchester City and Bayern Munich closer to title triumph. Here's Mark Ogden, Alex Kirkland and Andrew Cesare Richardson with what you need to know from across Europe. Yes, it's just the Spanish Supercopa and more trophies will be needed at the end of the season for the campaign to be considered a success - that's Real Madrid after all - but Carlo Ancelotti deserves credit for building a serious squad, which plays to its strengths and most of the time it gets the job done. The 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao in Sunday's Supercopa final in Saudi Arabia was relatively uneventful and the players who did most to lift the trophy were not surprising either. Luka Modric and Karim Benzema scored the goals and Thibaut Courtois saved a late Eder Militao penalty which was sent off for handball. Athletic are potentially troublesome opponents who have been expertly coached by coach Marcelino, but the team that surprised Atletico Madrid with a second-half comeback in the semi-finals never looked like another upset would be forthcoming. Modric felt like the right choice as MVP of the final after ending a deadly end-to-end team movement, quick passing and smart decisions to put Madrid ahead in the 38th minute. Remarkably, it was his first goal in a season in which he failed repeatedly at woodwork. Benzema doubled the lead with a penalty but after the final whistle it was Courtois who stood out with a penalty stop, defying physics and throwing to the right while also lifting a leg to the left to block Raul Garcia's shot. Ralf Rangnick was hired as Man United's interim manager with the main objective of stabilizing the ship and getting the team back on track to finish in the top four, but a 2-2 draw at Aston Villa was the most recent example of his Battle for a placement lid on the chaos at the club. Throwing away a 2-0 lead by conceding two goals in the final 13 minutes was bad enough in terms of chasing a Champions League spot, but Rangnick revealed after the game he couldn't fill his substitutes' bench because Anthony Martial refused to travel with the squad (a claim later denied by the transfer-seeking striker). This came at the end of a week in which Cristiano Ronaldo criticized the recruitment of younger players and Marcus Rashford's dismal performance against Villa in the FA Cup highlighted his ongoing decline in form; United are drifting towards the rocks at an alarming rate and getting things right this season is beyond Rangnick. If Rangnick's legacy is to hasten the end of a culture of players who are forgiving and allowed to underperform, his tenure will not have been a failure. The rivalry between Sevilla and Real Betis is Spain's fiercest and most unpredictable, but the ups and downs of a Copa del Rey tie between the teams spanning two days were extreme even by the game's own standards. Sergio Canales' goal gave Betis a 2-1 win and a place in the quarters, but the result felt like an afterthought. A game that started in front of 50,000 fans on Saturday night - and produced a pulsating 40-minute opening - was suddenly interrupted when Sevilla's Joan Jordan was hit in the head by a plastic pole thrown from the stands. When the tie finally ended on Sunday, it was ended behind closed doors and the loudest noise at the Benito Villamarin came from both clubs' post-match complaints. Aside from the unanimous condemnation of the act itself, there were questions as to whether Sevilla had attempted to turn the situation to their advantage. Several Betis players, including Victor Camarasa, took to social media to accuse their rivals and manager Julen Lopetegui of encouraging Jordan to exaggerate his condition. That sparked an angry reaction from Lopetegui, who called it "absolutely unfortunate." Meanwhile, his counterpart Manuel Pellegrini, whose side are continuing an impressive season, questioned how much damage could be done by what the Spanish Football Federation's report called "a 50cm hollow PVC bar". Paulo Dybala is known for his 'mask' celebrations but after making an impressive opener against Udinese his decision to simply turn and run to the halfway line before staring at the Juventus directors' box has sparked further speculation his future. Cristiano Ronaldo's departure last year should set the stage for Dybala to become Juve's central figure and he has demonstrated his quality - that latest goal followed a superb performance against Roma last week - but his inability to do so playing all season and staying injury-free seems to be affecting the hierarchy. The Argentina international's contract expires on June 30 and recent reports suggest the club's latest offer was lower than the terms previously discussed. Meanwhile, speculation in Italy suggests Internazionale could sign the 28-year-old on a free transfer at the end of the season. Inter director Beppe Marotta oversaw Dybala's move from Palermo to Juventus in 2015 and Nerazzurri manager Simone Inzaghi was asked on Saturday if he would be interested in managing the striker, although he expertly skirted the question. In any debate about the best Premier League midfielder of all time, Kevin De Bruyne has earned the right to stand alongside Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira, Paul Scholes, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, all of whom were able to score similar great goals as the winner De Bruyne scheduled against Chelsea. Then, from 25 yards, De Bruyne unleashed a right-footed curl that flew past Kepa Arrizabalaga and sealed a win that moved the champions closer to their title. The 30-year-old is a paragon of consistency, so much so that his quality is sometimes overlooked when it comes to the best players in the league, but De Bruyne can also be spectacular and that spot-on strike was a great piece of ability. It might have been Ciro Immobile who set up a comfortable 3-0 win at Salernitana with a cool finish, but the goal will be remembered more for an inch-perfect heel assist from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic who continues to show he's a world class -Midfielder and deserves a move to one of Europe's elite teams. Maurizio Sarri is known for his impressive style of play and this combination was proof that his players are beginning to understand. After the game, the Lazio manager said of Milinkovic-Savic: "I've coached a lot of great players but he's one of the best I've ever worked with. He used to lose the ball too cheaply, but now he plays with more determination." -- Richardson The incident that led to the stoppage of the Seville derby happened seconds after the game's pivotal moment: another visionary, improvisational genius by Nabil Fekir, who celebrated his new contract with the club with something special.Fekir prepared for a corner, spotted Sevilla goalkeeper Alfonso Pastor off his line, organized his defense and lashed a vicious left-footed shot into the top corner.It was overshadowed by the , which followed but the goal showed again why Fekir - and Betis - are as consistently entertaining as any player or team in Spain.Only Juventus, Inter and AC Milan have won Serie A more times than Genoa but it's 98 Years since Rossoblu won the last of their nine titles, underlining the sacking of Andriy Shevchenko after just 11 games, w How far the once mighty association have fallen. After guiding Ukraine to the quarter-finals of Euro 2020, Shevchenko and his growing reputation took first steps in club management in November as Davide Ballardini's fourth spell as manager came to an end. However, two months and nine league games without a win later, Shevchenko is out. Genoa have promoted Abdoulay Konko from the youth team to become caretaker manager but the club's only league win was long ago in September and six points adrift of fourth-bottom Venezia, relegation is likely. They may have qualified for the Champions League knockout rounds before Barcelona, ​​but Benfica are struggling in league play and their stalled title challenge was met again with a home draw against relegated contenders Moreirense. The Eagles began December with a 3-1 home loss to Lisbon rivals Sporting and - after three-time title winner Jorge Jesus gave up his position - ended it with back-to-back defeats by Porto, first in the Taca de Portugal, then in the Primeira League. Appointed until the end of the season, Nelson Verissimo began his tenure with the second of those defeats. While he followed that up with a win over Pacos de Ferreira, the draw with Moreirense left Benfica nine points behind leaders Porto and has all but dashed the club's hopes of a first league title since 2019 and 38th overall. Robert Lewandowski scores goals with such unerring, relentless frequency that even a hat-trick like the one he scored in the 4-0 win at 1. FC Köln hardly seems like news. However, his latest performance not only restored FC Bayern Munich's six-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga, it also marked two significant milestones. Not only was this Bayern's 66th consecutive league game without exclusion - a record dating back to a 0-0 draw with RB Leipzig in February 2020 - Lewandowski has also netted 300 Bundesliga goals. Even at 33 and on his contract with Bayern next year, one wouldn't rule out his catching up with the legendary Gerd Muller, who leads all goals at 365.

Read

Real Madrid win Supercopa

Things looked mixed for some of Europe's biggest clubs at the weekend, but Manchester City and Bayern Munich edged closer to the league title. (Author: Gardener)

Real MadridMeanwhile, there were Copa del Rey controversies and victories that pushed Manchester City and Bayern Munich closer to title triumph. Here's Mark Ogden, Alex Kirkland and Andrew Cesare Richardson with what you need to know from across Europe. Yes, it's just the Spanish Supercopa and more trophies are needed at the end of the season to consider the campaign a success - that's Real Madrid after all - but Carlo Ancelotti deserves credit for building a serious side that plays to their strengths and mostly gets their work done. The 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao in Sunday's Supercopa final in Saudi Arabia was relatively uneventful and the players who did most to lift the trophy were not surprising. Luka Modric and Karim Benzema scored the goals and, just to be on the safe side, Thibaut Courtois saved a late Eder Militao penalty that was sent off. Athletic are potentially troublesome opponents who have been expertly coached by coach Marcelino, but the team surprised Atlético Madrid with a semi-final comeback in the second half and it didn't look like he would surprise again. Modric felt like the right choice as MVP of the final after ending a deadly end-to-end team substitution with quick passes and smart decisions, putting Madrid ahead in the 38th minute. Remarkably, it was his first goal in a season that saw him repeatedly thwarted by the woodwork. Benzema doubled the lead with a penalty, but after the final whistle it was Courtois who stood out with a physics-defying penalty, throwing to the right while raising a leg to the left to block Raul Garcia's shot. -- Kirkland Ralf Rangnick was hired as Man United's interim manager with the main objective of stabilizing the ship and putting the team back on track for a top-four finish, but a 2-2 draw at Aston Villa was the most recent Example of his fight An end to the chaos at the club. Throwing away a 2-0 lead by conceding two goals in the final 13 minutes was bad enough for the pursuit of a Champions League spot, but Rangnick revealed after the game he couldn't fill his substitutes' bench as Anthony Martial left refused to travel with the squad (a claim the transfer-seeking striker later denied). This came at the end of a week in which Cristiano Ronaldo criticized the hiring of younger players and Marcus Rashford's dismal performance against Villa in the FA Cup highlighted his ongoing decline in form; United are drifting towards the rocks at an alarming rate and fixing things this season is beyond Rangnick. But the negativity has potentially positive potential: when so many issues surface, anyone hired as a permanent manager can fix any issues that are on their way to being addressed. -- OgdenThe rivalry between Sevilla and Real Betis is Spain's fiercest and most unpredictable, but the ups and downs of a Copa del Rey tie between the teams spanning two days were extreme even by the game's own standards. Sergio Canales' goal gave Betis a 2-1 win and a place in the quarter-finals, but the result felt like an afterthought and was suddenly stopped when Sevilla's Joan Jordan was hit in the head by a plastic pole thrown from the stands. When the clash finally came to an end on Sunday, it was played out behind closed doors and the loudest noise at the Benito Villamarin came from both clubs' post-match complaints. Aside from the joint condemnation of the act itself, there were questions as to whether Sevilla had intended to turn the situation to their advantage. Several Betis players, including Victor Camarasa, took to social media to accuse their rivals and manager Julen Lopetegui of encouraging Jordan to exaggerate his condition. That sparked an angry reaction from Lopetegui, who called it "absolutely unfortunate." Meanwhile, his counterpart Manuel Pellegrini, whose side are continuing an impressive season, questioned how much damage could be done by what the Spanish Football Federation's report called "a 50cm hollow PVC bar". - Kirkland - ESPN+ Viewer's Guide: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, FA Cup, more Get Instant AccessPaulo Dybala is known for his 'mask' celebration but after scoring an impressive opener against Udinese he decided to just turn around and to run down the center line before staring at the Juventus directors' box has prompted further speculation about his future. That latest goal followed a fine performance against Roma last week - but his inability to play for a full season and remain injury-free appears to be worrying the hierarchy. The Argentina international's contract expires on June 30 and recent reports suggest the club's latest offer was lower than the terms previously discussed. Meanwhile, speculation in Italy suggests Internazionale could sign the 28-year-old on a free transfer at the end of the season. Inter director Beppe Marotta oversaw Dybala's move from Palermo to Juventus in 2015 and Nerazzurri coach Simone Inzaghi was asked on Saturday if he would be interested in managing the striker, although he expertly sidestepped the question. - RichardsonKevin De Bruyne has earned the right in any debate about the Premier League's all-time greatest midfielder to stand alongside Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira, Paul Scholes, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, all of whom were able to score goals of similar size to the winner De Bruyne provided against Chelsea. The Belgium international received the ball in the middle of Chelsea's half and cleared N'Golo Kante before dashing towards the box. Then, from 25 yards, De Bruyne fired a right-footed shot that flew past Kepa Arrizabalaga, sealing a victory that brought the champions closer to winning the title. The 30-year-old is a paragon of consistency, so much so that his quality is sometimes overlooked when it comes to the best players in the league, but De Bruyne can also be spectacular and that spot-on strike was a superb performance. -- OgdenIt might have been Ciro Immobile who set up a comfortable 3-0 win at Salernitana with a cool finish, but the goal is more likely to be remembered for Sergej Milinkovic-Savic's inch-perfect heel support that continues to show he is a world class -Midfielder and would have deserved to be transferred to one of Europe's elite teams. Maurizio Sarri is known for his impressive style of play and this combination was proof that his players are beginning to understand. After the game, the Lazio manager said of Milinkovic-Savic: "I've coached a lot of great players but he's one of the best I've ever worked with. He used to lose the ball too cheaply, but now he plays with more determination." -- RichardsonThe incident that led to the stoppage of the Seville derby happened seconds after what should have been the game's defining moment: another Visionary, improvisational genius from Nabil Fekir, who celebrated his new contract at the club with a corner, Fekir spotted Sevilla goalkeeper Alfonso Pastor off his line, organized his defense and whipped a vicious left foot into the top corner Overshadowed what followed, but the goal showed again why Fekir - and Betis - are as consistently entertaining as any player or side in Spain - KirklandTwo sides to worry about Only Juventus, Inter and AC Milan have Serie A won more times than Genoa, but it has been 98 years since Rossoblu clinched the last of their nine titles and the sacking of Andriy Shevchenko after just 11 games shows how far the once mighty club have fallen. After guiding Ukraine to the quarter-finals of Euro 2020, Shevchenko and his burgeoning reputation took his first steps in club management in November as Davide Ballardini's fourth term came to an end. However, two months and nine league games without a win later, Shevchenko is eliminated. Genoa have promoted Abdoulay Konko from the youth team to act on an interim basis, but the club's only league win came way back in September and, six points adrift of fourth-placed Venezia, relegation is likely. -- Ogden They may have qualified for the knockout rounds of the Champions League ahead of Barcelona, ​​but Benfica are struggling in league play and their ailing title challenge was met again with a home draw against relegated Moreirense. The Eagles started December with a 3-1 home loss to Lisbon rivals Sporting and - after three-time title winner Jorge Jesus gave up his position - ended it with back-to-back defeats to Porto, first in the Taca de Portugal, then in the Primeira Liga . Appointed until the end of the season, Nelson Verissimo began his tenure with the second of those defeats. While he followed that up with a win over Pacos de Ferreira, the draw with Moreirense left Benfica nine points behind leaders Porto and has all but dashed the club's hopes of a first league title since 2019 and 38th overall. However, his latest performance not only restored Bayern Munich's six-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga, but also set two significant milestones at once, with the record dating back to a 0-0 draw against RB Leipzig in February 2020 – but Lewandowski has scored 300 Bundesliga goals.

Read

Real Madrid beat Athletic 2-0 to win the Spanish Super Cup

MADRID (AP) - Real Madrid will not go without a title for a second consecutive season. After failing to lift a trophy under Zinedine Zidane last season, Carlo Ancelotti's Madrid clinched the Spanish Super Cup with a 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao in Saudi Arabia on Sunday. (Author: Gardener)

the Spanish Super CupMADRID (AP) - Real Madrid will not go without a title for a second consecutive season. After failing to lift a trophy under Zinedine Zidane last season, Carlo Ancelotti's Madrid clinched the Spanish Super Cup with a 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao in Saudi Arabia on Sunday. Luka Modric and Karim Benzema scored in each half of the final as Madrid easily defeated the holders and cemented their status as the best team in Spain this season. Madrid have already beaten Barcelona twice – including in the semi-finals of the Super Cup – and Atlético Madrid once and are more than 15 points ahead of both rivals at the halfway point in the Spanish league season. Ancelotti has also guided Madrid to the knockout rounds of the Champions League. Madrid went without a trophy for the first time in more than a decade under Zidane last season. Madrid's 12th Super Cup title puts the club just behind Barcelona, ​​the most successful team in the competition. Athletic was aiming for their fourth Supercup trophy. It was Madrid's second Supercup title since the competition moved to Saudi Arabia in 2020. It had won the first edition of the tournament in the Middle Eastern country by beating Atlético in the final. The Super Cup returned to Spain in 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Spanish Football Federation has had to defend itself against criticism from human rights groups over its decision to play in Saudi Arabia, worth €30 million ($34 million) a year, until 2029. Athletic were aiming for their second consecutive title after beating Barcelona in last year's final. It beat Atlético in this year's semifinals in the revised "Final Four" format. Benzema further extended the lead by converting a penalty in the 51st minute after a handball detected via video review. Athletic had a chance to get closer in the final minutes but Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois saved Raúl García's penalty with his left foot. Madrid defender Éder Militão was sent off for the handball that led to the penalty. "We could have gotten back into the game but Courtois ended our chances with that save," said Athletic defender Óscar de Marcos. Madrid's triumph gave veteran Brazilian defender Marcelo a record-breaking 23rd title with the club since joining Paco Gento in 2006. That put him ahead of former centre-back Sergio Ramos, who now plays for Paris Saint-Germain. It's Marcelo's fifth Spanish Supercup title. He came on as a substitute in the 86th and lifted the trophy as team captain. Madrid were without defender Dani Carvajal due to a positive coronavirus test. Sergio Canales scored in the 73rd as Real Betis beat Sevilla 2-1 in a Copa del Rey game that continued a day after a Sevilla player was hit in the head by a piece of PVC thrown from the stands thrown by Betis at the Benito Villamarín Stadium. Marcos André scored a minute into the game as Valencia beat Atlético Baleares 1-0 to advance to the Copa del Rey quarter-finals. Atlético was the last third division team still in the competition. In Sunday's only Spanish league game, Elche defeated Villarreal 1-0 at home through a 78th-minute goal from Lucas Boyé to win their third straight game in all competitions.

Read