It's time for the Supercopa!
Barcelona face Atletico Madrid on Wednesday in an exciting clash between two of Spain's top sides. Last season, Barcelona won both their matches by a combined score of 6-2.
This year, Atletico will hope to get off on a better foot against their Catalan rivals, while Barcelona will be hoping to win the Supercopa after dropping it to Real Madrid on away goals a season ago.
This one should be fun, folks—let's break down the first leg.
When: Wednesday, August 21 at 5 p.m. ET
Where: Vicente Calderon, Madrid
What They're Saying
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone knows his team is probably outmatched against a stacked Barcelona side. He knows he is coaching the underdogs and won't be expected to win the Supercopa.
So he decided to put a little added pressure on the Catalans with his latest comments (via AFP):
The Super Cup is not more important for us than them. Finals are important for everyone. Their status as favourites makes it more important for them because they have the obligation to win it.
Barcelona are without doubt the better team. They have (Lionel) Messi, the best player in the world, and they have bought a player that could be the best in the world in Neymar. They have (Andres) Iniesta, Xavi, Pedro and Alexis (Sanchez). They have various players that are important and it is normal that they are favourites.
With the economic power they have, they are able to assemble this team that we can enjoy because watching Barcelona is a pleasure.
He also wasn't worried about Barcelona's inevitable domination of possession:
On Sunday, Sevilla had 65 percent possession and we had 37 percent, but we had more shots, more corners and more goals. It is always important to have possession, but with a final purpose. We have a style with less possession because of the players we have.
They have more, but with a final explosion. They were the inventors of this style and the rest have copied it. We need to have patience and be secure and solid in these type of games to take advantage of our opportunities.
Atletico Madrid Player to Watch: David Villa
The goal-scoring maestro never quite clicked at Barcelona like he did at Valencia, in large part because Lionel Messi was the center of Barca's offense from the false-9 position. At Valencia, Villa scored 20 or more league goals in a season three times.
At Barca, he never reached the figure.
But now settled at Atletico, Villa has the chance to show Barcelona what they're missing. He may not bring the complete offensive game of departed forward Radamel Falcao, but Villa is still a classy goal-scorer and will attract plenty of attention from the Barca defense.
Barcelona Player to Watch: Neymar
Neymar didn't start in Barcelona's opener to the season—and they didn't need him, thrashing Levante 7-0—but all eyes will be on the Brazilian superstar in the Supercopa.
Will he start? If he does, will he be dominant? If he doesn't, when will he be inserted into the game?
Neymar is about to enter the most grueling season of his career—and ahead of the World Cup, no less—so it wouldn't be surprising to see Barcelona monitor his usage very carefully. But if he is on the pitch, you can bet there won't be a player that receives more attention than Neymar.
Everyone wants to see what the kid will do at Barca.
Atletico Madrid Wins If...
They use the crowd as motivation and keep their energy high throughout the match.
Diego Costa and Villa keep the pressure on Barca's back four and notch an early goal.
Atletico will concede the majority of possession, sure, but when they get the ball they are decisive and move forward, and they don't allow Barcelona to immediately win the ball back.
Barcelona Wins If...
They play their game and keep Atletico's possession scarce.
Lionel Messi goes off.
The defense close down on Costa and Villa when they get the ball near the box and doesn't allow either to bomb away from range.
They control the midfield, which they normally do.
Which team wins?
Even at home, it's hard to see Atletico Madrid winning this match. Quite simply, Barcelona are simply better. They're deeper, have had less turnover this summer and have the top three or four players in the game.
But Atletico won't roll over and will play a bit over their heads at home. Barcelona will get the always-important away goal, but Atletico will manage a draw in the first leg, 1-1.