Supercopa de España: FC Barcelona 0 - 0 Atlético Madrid: Match Review

David Ramos

Recap of the return leg of the Supercopa between FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid that ended in a scoreless draw. With the first leg ending in a one-all draw Barça were able to celebrate their first title of the season after the final whistle

In an card-filled second Supercopa de España leg FC Barcelona at the Camp Nou earned their first trophy of the new season. The scoreless draw favored the Catalans who, in as it turned out, received the winning goal a week ago from this season's only arrival, Neymar. The game was tainted late in the second half when two Atletico Madrid players picked up red cards.


Barcelona


Atlético Madrid


Possession


78%


22%


Total Shots


8


8


Shots on Target


1


3


Pass Accuracy


90%


69%


Fouls


9


27


Offsides


0


2


Yellow Cards


3


3


Red Cards


0


2


Barcelona coach, Gerardo Martino, made a pair of changes in the starting lineup from the first Supercopa Leg. Cesc Fabregas replaced Andres Iniesta in midfield while upfront Pedro remained on the bench in place of Neymar. That meant that for the first time since the Brazilian's arrival to the Catalan capital Neymar and Lionel Messi started a game together. In fact it was Neymar's first start for Barcelona.

From the opening minute it was evident that Atletico Madrid will be content with sitting back and allowing Barça a quick transition through the middle third of the pitch. But when the Blaugrana players came to about the 30 yard line Atletico would begin with strong pressure on the ball carrier.

But the visitors' defense had it holes, and the first one was exposed in the 8th minute when Sergio Busquets brilliantly found Messi in front of Thibaut Courtois. However, Messi was bothered just enough by the Diego Godin that Courtois had enough time to collect the ball. Two minutes later Alexis Sanchez had the opportunity to bury the ball from the right side into the open net after the Belgian goalkeeper misread the cross, but Alexis just couldn't reach the ball to make the needed touch.

Similarly to the first leg Atletico again played very rough football, and after just 15 minutes the referee had to stop the play for fouls on Messi three times already. But the roughness didn't stop Barcelona from applying constant pressure on Atletico's backline.

However, despite the strong pressure the visiting defense held its ground and remained in very good shape. They also weren't distracted by plenty of roaming from the Barcelona front three who often switched places in the opening thirty minutes of the game.

It would, however, be unrealistic to expect a team as talented as Atletico would not create scoring chances of their own, especially on the counter attack. Against Malaga during the weekend Barcelona's defense struggled to cope with the opponents, but you could hardly find anything wrong with the group's play in the first half hour. Especially impressive was Gerard Pique who made two crucial counter-attack-stopping tackles.

In line with the style of play the first yellow card of the game did go to an Atleti player, Koke, but ironically it was Barcelona who ended the half with more - two. They went to Cesc, for what had to have been one of the cleanest tackles you'll see this season, and Busquets, for saying something juicy to the referee, Borbalán.

While the free kick "given up" by Cesc on the play that won him a yellow card didn't lead to anything dangerous, the story was different in the 35th minute. A long pass sprung Diego Costa behind Barça's defensive line, and the Brazilian looked to be clear on goal. But Jordi Alba made a good play to disrupt Costa's run who then opted to pass the ball off to the edge of the box where Koke fired a weak shot on goal that was easily held by Victor Valdes.

Barcelona quickly responded with a chance of their own that ended with Courtois making two saves. But Atletico quickly returned to the attack and after a sequence of quick, short passes that left Javier Mascherano and Pique spinning around Arda Turan was all alone in front of Valdes. Arda fired a strong shot to the near corner, and you could already see the visitors thinking about the lead, but Valdes made an outstanding right hand save to somehow keep the ball from crossing the line.

The last chances of the game, however, went the Catalan's way. Messi sent a useful cross to the far post where Alexis rose over Godin, but could only head the ball over the crossbar - if Alexis was two inches taller he would've been able to direct the header downwards on goal. That would be the last dangerous play in front of either net in the first half which ended without goals.

The second half began with neither team making any substitutions. It also began with Atletico immediately threatening Valdes' net, but the goalkeeper confidently collected one cross while the other was cleared by Pique. Pique and Dani Alves also combined soon after to stop another quick attack by the visitors.

Atletico continued with the strong start to the second half, and Filipe Luis won a free kick near the left sideline after Pique had no chance but to bring the full-back down from behind for a yellow card. The cross didn't lead to anything dangerous, but it continued a disturbing trend in which Barcelona could do little to stop their opponents. In the 56th minute Valdes was once again called into action as he had to make another excellent save, this one on David Villa's long-range effort, to keep his net untarnished.

Barcelona then slowly began to assert their possession game which limited Atletico's runs forward. However, creating a good scoring chance remained difficult for the Catalan side. The visitors' defense played a very organized game, not allowing any cheap chances to Barcelona.

Trying to improve his team's fortunes in attack Tata Martino made his first substitution in the 65th minute, replacing Alexis with Pedro. Alexis didn't have a bad game per se, but he wasn't as lively as he's been in other games this season. Quickly after the change a chance was presented to Neymar to score the opener after another cross by Alves, but the forward tried to pass the ball off, but nobody was in the middle to receive it.

After the initial onslaught after the restart of the game Atletico pulled back once again which allowed Barcelona to string together more passes in the offensive third and quickly find their way into the penalty area, however, again without threatening the goalkeeper.

With the scoreless draw favoring Barcelona, Diego Simeone was forced to start playing with two strikers in the 72nd minute. Adrian Lopez came on the pitch, replacing Arda who played the entire game on the wing. Tata responded with a substitution of his own the very next minute, bringing in Iniesta for Cesc.

In the 80th minute Alves suddenly found himself on the ground, and it was evident that something happened out of frame. Borbalán first held a short conference with his assistant, and then walked up to Filipe, immediately showing him the red card. Replays showed that Filipe not once, but twice wrestled Alves to the ground without the ball, the second time even using his elbow/hand.

In quick succession Simeone then made two substitutions. First Cristian Rodríguez replaced Villa and then Leo Baptistão took the place of Koke. But just before the second substitution, in the 88th minute the referee pointed to the spot for a penalty kick after João Miranda brought down Pedro. Messi, obviously, stepped up to take it and powered it on goal only to be denied by the crossbar. The Argentinian might now have a thing now for taking penalties against Chelsea-owned goalkeepers.

In the remaining time another Atletico player was sent off, Arda. Like Filipe he too received a straight red card, but this one had no impact on the game as the Turk was already on the bench at that time.

There would, however, be no goals scored until the final whistle, meaning FC Barcelona had won their first trophy of the 2013-14 season courtesy of the away goal. To some extent Barça can count themselves lucky to win the title, and most of all they should be thankful of Valdes whose two outstanding saves proved to be the difference makers after Messi's missed spot kick.

With the first trophy of the "Tata Era" in the bag Barcelona can now once again focus on the La Liga where Valencia awaits on Sunday.

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