Spanish Super Cup 2013: Keys to Victory for Barcelona and Atletico Madrid
Barcelona enter the Spanish Supercopa as the heavy favorites against Atletico Madrid, but either side is capable of coming out with a win if they stick to their plans.
The early-season contest takes place across two legs, and it features the reigning winners of La Liga against the winners of the Copa del Rey.
Atletico Madrid were surprise winners of the Spanish tournament last season when they defeated Real Madrid in the finals. They will look to continue their ability to knock off the biggest clubs in the league when they face Barcelona.
Of course, the defending league champs are as strong as ever and will be incredibly tough for anyone to defeat. The match will come down to whoever does a better job of following their keys to victory.
Pressure the Ball
One thing that has successfully slowed down Barcelona's incredible attack in the past is pressure on the ball.
Barca love controlling possession as long as possible and finding openings in the defense when they present themselves. In order to stop this from happening, opposing teams have to go after the ball and try to gain possession back before a scoring chance can open up.
This is the strategy that helped Bayern Munich defeat Barcelona 7-0 in aggregate score in the Champions League semifinals.
Obviously, Atletico Madrid do not have the skill of Bayern. Still, they cannot afford to sit back and let their opponent do whatever they want offensively.
Take Chances on the Attack
No matter what Atletico Madrid do defensively, opportunities will still be few and far between on the attack. This is why it is important to aggressively go after chances.
The Spanish club will not have an opportunity to sit around waiting for the perfect shot to open up. Instead, they must look to rip shots whenever there is a clearing, even if they are outside the box.
With Diego Costa, David Villa and others on the roster at forward, there are plenty of players who know how to finish around the net. They have to utilize this strength and put opposing keeper Victor Valdes to work throughout the match.
Pass With a Purpose
One thing that Gerardo Martino has been focusing on since coming to Camp Nou is having his squad make better passes.
Even though Barcelona is normally incredibly efficient with its passing, it is more often making lateral and backward moves. The club would be better suited with more purposeful passing toward the net.
This was on display in the team's 7-0 win over Levante. The attacking players showed great vision and were able to make quality passes to guys in position to score.
For the team to be successful going forward, this must continue.
Maintain Focus on Defense
The only true weakness on Barcelona's roster is on defense, where the squad seriously lacks depth in the middle of the back line.
Javier Mascherano and Adriano have been thrust into action at centre-back with Carles Puyol out, and both players can be inconsistent at times. When they lose focus or are overaggressive around the ball, it can lead to an open shot by the opposing team.
Considering the talent on the roster, the only way the team will allow goals is if there is a mistake somewhere on the pitch. Barcelona has to stay focused and make sure this does not happen.
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