Real Madrid Kickstarts European Season With Super Cup Victory Against Eintracht Frankfurt

Real Madrid does not lose European clubs finals. It was no different on Wednesday night in Helsinki, Finland, where the Spanish club dispatched Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 to clinch a fifth European Super Cup and reinforce its continental credentials for the new season.

Against Frankfurt, a club for which the Bundesliga became a sideshow last season on a long conquest around Europe supported by an invading army of merry fans, Madrid started where it had left off last season: with Belgian goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois’ outstanding saves preventing both Daichi Kamada and Ansgar Knauff from scoring; Luka Modric and Toni Kroos dictating midfield play and Vinicius Junior, often drifting infield, and Karim Benzema carving open the opponents’ backline.

It was a first-half full of little thrills and a number of big opportunities for the 2022 Champions League winner. In the 37th minute, Alaba tapped in the opening goal. It was a bit too easy for the Spanish side, even if Frankfurt is a formidable enough side, who kept the nucleus of its Europa League-winning squad together and will feature in this season’s Champions League.

Frankfurt coach Glasner wanted a more “compact” and “composed” performance following his team’s 6-1 defeat against Bayern Munich. The German club is experiencing life among the big boys. Madrid is used to – up to the point where all their conquests and victories have even become confounding.

Indeed, at what point does Real Madrid’s recent dominance of European soccer come to an end? It is not precisely a novel question, but one that has long perplexed observers of the game. First, there was the CR7-powered era when Madrid was never more than the sum of its part, but still won, claiming four crowns in five seasons.

The lodestar departed, and the club’s results slumped in Europe, but last season Madrid triumphed again in the continent’s premier club competition. Madrid was often stretched thin, paddling for the end, surviving the most improbable of scenarios and manufacturing comebacks that were almost ridiculous. Quite often, it was not very convincing either, but in the end Madrid, of course, won.

And their all-conquering, suave Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti is convinced that Real can emulate the brilliance of last season. At a news conference in the Finnish capital, he said: “We’ve signed two players [Antonio Rudiger and Aurelien Tchouameni] who have improved the physical and technical quality of the team.”

“We’ve had another year of working together, improving the alchemy between the veterans and youngsters. That was one of the successes of the team last year, and that can improve, because we’re more used to being together.”

It seems a bold statement. True, Rudiger and Tchouameni should bring more steel and solidity, but can Kroos, Modric and Benzema, all well into their thirties, produce that same intensity and consistency in a season that will be the most demanding of all with a Winter World Cup in Qatar?

At some point, logic should kick in. At some point, reality should prevail. That’s been said season after season, yet each and every time this group of Madrid players has proven the detractors wrong, bound by an insatiable desire to win. It was on display again in Helsinki where the Spanish dominated the match, ultimately nothing more than a glorified friendly. Predictably, Benzema got a decisive second goal in the 65th minute to become Real Madrid’s second-highest goalscorer, overtaking Raul. Don’t write Ancelotti and Madrid off when the Champions League throttles back into life to tunes of George Händel in September. They shall want even more European glory.