Madrid finish off Barca without Ronaldo

by

August 17, 2017
Real Madrid's Karim Benzema (left) celebrates after scoring his side's second goal against Barcelona during the Spanish Super Cup second leg football match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid yesterday. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

MADRID (AP):

Real Madrid beat Barcelona 2-0 to complete a 5-1 victory on aggregate in the Spanish Super Cup yesterday, dominating its fiercest rival without the need of Cristiano Ronaldo or Gareth Bale.

Marco Asensio and Karim Benzema provided the goals in the second leg for a Madrid side that showed every ounce of confidence that Barcelona sorely lacked.

While Bale was rested on the bench, Ronaldo watched the game from the Santiago Bernabeu stands as he completed the first game of a five-match ban for pushing the referee who sent him off in Sunday's 3-1 first-leg win.

Asensio filled in perfectly for Madrid's star, scoring five minutes into the match for his second goal in the season's curtain raiser. Benzema added a second goal in the 39th after Lucas Vazquez had already hit the post for the hosts.

Barcelona struggled to score for a second match since the shocking departure of Neymar on a world-record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain. The closest it went to scoring was Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez hitting the woodwork in the second half after the title was already in Madrid's grasp.

"Our first 20 minutes were magnificent," Madrid defender Dani Carvajal said. "We ran right over them and they felt overwhelmed."

After seeing his team be soundly beaten on its home pitch in his debut with the team on Sunday, Barcelona's new coach Ernesto Valverde decided to revamp both his starting 11 and its formation.

clearly missed

He ditched Barcelona's classic 4-3-3 formation for a 3-5-2, with only Messi and Suarez up front. Neymar had accompanied them for the past four seasons before he bolted for PSG.

Valverde also gave starts to midfielders Andre Gomes and Sergi Roberto and defender Javier Mascherano, in place of Sunday's starters Aleix Vidal, Gerard Deulofeu and the injured Andres Iniesta.

It did not matter.

Barcelona had no answer for Madrid's pressure, lost ball after ball in its own half, and clearly missed Neymar's presence on the left flank to start quick attacks.

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