Supercopa 2013 2nd leg Match Preview: FC Barcelona vs Atlético Madrid

atletico madrid 1-1 barcelona messi ardaThe first trophy of the season is up for grabs tomorrow night as Barça take on Atlético Madrid in the second leg of the Supercopa at Camp Nou (Wednesday 11 pm). The first game last week at the Vicente Calderón ended in a 1-1 draw with ex-blaugrana David Villa putting Atlético into an early lead before Neymar Jr came on as a second half substitute to head in an important away goal that gives Barça a slight advantage going into the return match. There is a lot of expectation that Neymar could make Tata Martino’s initial lineup for the first time while Leo Messi looks likely to recover in time which means that we could see Barça’s new super duo together in the starting XI for the first time.

Diego Simeone has called up his entire first team squad for the game which means that 24 players made the two-and-a-half-hour train trip from Madrid to Barcelona today. Atlético will stay at the Hotel Princesa Sofia and the squad will train this evening at Espanyol’s Ciutat Esportiva. Simeone is likely to put out a very similar team to that seen in the first leg though he may be tempted to find a place for Raúl Garcia after his brace in Sunday’s 5-0 win over Rayo Vallecano.

Barça look likely to be without Adriano after a muscle injury forced him off during Sunday’s 0-1 victory at Malaga. However, Martino should have Messi back after the player trained normally yesterday, but Barça’s coach will wait to announce the squad until this evening’s training session.

atletico madrid 1-1 barcelona mascherano diego costa 2013 supercopaWe are only three games into the season so it is still early to judge, but so far we have seen that Martino is prepared to rotate players without going crazy. Alba and Iniesta were rested against Levante while it was the turn of Busquets, who today signed a new contract until 2018, and Alves at Malaga, but the core of the team has remained unchanged. Valdés, Piqué, Mascherano, Xavi and Alexis have played all three games so far and there is already the sense that the back-up for Piqué, Mascherano and Xavi may not be so good which could lead to an overload of games for these players.

Piqué and Mascherano look likely to start again against Atlético in a back four with Alves and Alba. Martino has yet to try a midfield three of Busquets, Fabregas and Iniesta but this could be an option tomorrow if the 33-year-old Xavi needs a rest. Neymar showed enough in half an hour at Malaga to suggest he deserves a start more than Pedro so if Messi is fit again we could have the exciting South American trio of Alexis, Messi and Neymar leading the attack.

Atlético’s last five visits to Camp Nou have all ended in defeat. Barça have found the Atlético net 23 times in those five games with Messi scoring an impressive 11 of those goals. Last season’s league fixture finished with a 4-1 Barça victory with Adriano, Busquets and Messi twice replying to Radamel Falcao’s opening. I have a feeling that tomorrow’s game will be tighter but at the end of the match Tata Martino will have secured his first title as Barça’s coach.

In other news today Barça have announced a new three-year sponsorship deal with Qatar Airways that will be worth €100 million to the club. The airline have offered an additional €5 million bonus if Barça win the Champions League during the three years and they will also organize new flight routes to Barcelona for Barça’s home games. Barça will continue to wear the name of Qatar Airways on the shirt while extending the amount of publicity for the airline around Camp Nou. There will also be other publicity projects such as the advert released today that you can watch below…

Possible starting XIs.

Barça: Valdés; Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba; Fabregas, Busquets, Iniesta; Alexis, Messi, Neymar.

Atlético: Courtois; Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Filipe Luis; Koke, Mario Suarez, Gabi, Arda Turan; Diego Costa, Villa.

Prediction: Barça 2 Atlético 1

Date: Wednesday 28 August 2013. Kick off: 11 pm local time.

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10 Responses to Supercopa 2013 2nd leg Match Preview: FC Barcelona vs Atlético Madrid

  1. Nic, good report as usual.I see a 5-0 though!

    • Hey Diatus, I hope you’re right 🙂 The first two games at the stadium under Tata have ended 8-0 v Santos and 7-0 v Levante, so your prediction may well prove more accurate than mine.

  2. Barça’s 19-man squad for the game confirmed: Messi and Montoya return in place of Adriano and Dos Santos. The 19 are: Valdés, Pinto, Alves, Montoya, Piqué, Mascherano, Bartra, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Song, Sergi Roberto, Cesc Fàbregas, Tello, Alexis, Pedro, Messi, Neymar.

  3. Caleb says:

    Good write up. I think there have to be some legitimate options for getting Xavi some more rest. Like you mentioned, putting Fabregas is one. Don’t you think that Iniesta, if asked to do so, could sit further back and play Xavi’s role? He surely has the consistency, doesn’t he? You could then also bring in either Fabregas or Sergi Roberto, I think.

    Along those same lines, do you think Busquets could play a similar role—with Song playing dm? Or is his long range passing not on par with Xavi’s?

    I wonder if Dos Santos will see any time this year or if he really made a mistake in staying around.

  4. Fredegar says:

    I’m not so optimistic, Atletico are a fearsome Cup team, and they will give their all, so this will be an excellent test to see where we stand. From what I’ve seen until now, I would say our pressing has been far better than last year, but our issues up front (where we can find it difficult to create clear cut chances) and at the back (we allowed Malaga 4 excellent chances on goal when they had almost no possession, although you’ve got to give them credit for their good performance) remain, so our first really meanigful game of the season against an excellent team should give us plenty of informations.
    As for our midfield, I can only agree with Caleb. It was said when talking of Fabregas that he was Xavi’s replacement, but I also feel that Xavi’s role should be fulfilled by Iniesta and that Fab’ is more suited to replace Iniesta than Xavi. And for Busquets, I couldn’t say a word to explain it, but I’ve just got the feeling that Xavi’s position is simply not his…

  5. Fredegar says:

    Btw, I’m still distraught at the sight of “Qatar Airways” on the chest of our players, but the advert is pretty good 😉 And God how much I miss Puyol…

  6. Interesting thoughts on how to replace Xavi. I agree with Fredegar that Busquets isn’t the one for the job, mainly because he seems so perfect for the DM role. If it comes to a choice between Fabregas and Iniesta I’d have to say I’d rather Fabregas moved deeper while maintaining Iniesta in his current role. It’s a difficult one because both Iniesta and Fabregas are better suited to an attacking midfield role rather than as organiser. Interestingly there are some who believe that the eventual successor to Xavi will be Leo Messi! It’s could be possibility as Messi may lose some of his explosiveness as he gets older and he certainly has the ability.

    • Fredegar says:

      Yeah, interesting, I would still go for Iniesta for two main reasons: I think he would be the better “regulator” of the three, the one who understands the game the most clearly, and also he is the older of the three, meaning his explosiveness will wane first. And a third one now I think of it, Xavi’s role is the deepest of our “attacking” players, and Iniesta is the one who has the weakest goal threat in him (believe me, I find it hard to write this…). Fabregas has shown he can excell as an attacking midfielder or even as a forward and offers plenty of goals, something we badly need. And IMO, Messi will never play as far from the goal as Xavi does now. Even if he plays up to 60 and can barely walk, if he has to play as an “organiser”, it will be more as a Zidane thas as a Xavi. It will be interesting to witness what a real coach will decide for this situation, but for now let’s still enjoy our maestro while he plays, as he’s probably truly irreplaceable!

  7. Pingback: Supercopa 2013 2nd leg Match Preview: FC Barcelona vs Atlético Madrid | radebigman

  8. Caleb says:

    I’m okay with Messi taking over for Xavi as long as he doesn’t try to take people on the dribble from deep. It’s been more than a couple important goals we have conceded when he’s lost the ball in midfield. It’s definitely an interesting thought, though.

    I mention Busquets because I believe he actually played a more attacking position for Spain when Xavi was injured or something (perhaps it was a friendly). And he did well.

    Also, if Sergi Samper develops really well and we have a glut of talent in the DM slot and no one to effectively take over for Xavi I think Busi could do it reasonably well. Bonus: he would be better on defense than Xavi.

    Personally I wouldn’t trust Fab. He makes some great, visionary plays, but then seconds later he will just pass the ball directly to an opposing player. He would really have to change his decision making to be a good replacement for Xavi.

    I think the next big star of the Barca midfield must be Sergi Roberto. If he can stay healthy the kid is pure gold. He could replace Xavi—but he’d probably be more box-to-box than Xavi is. I’d like to see him getting a bit more playing time during the regular season.

    JDS may have an outside shot.

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