Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid: Match Will Be Proving Ground for Both Clubs
Coming off of impressive victories to the start of the La Liga season, both Barcelona and Atletico Madrid will provide us all a better glimpse of what this season holds when the two meet on Aug. 21 at Estadio Vicente Calderon.
That is the way it should be. After all, as it features the reigning La Liga and Copa del Rey champs, this is the first leg of the Supercopa de Espana. And both teams look poised to recapture the success of a season ago.
Barcelona's La Liga title defense got off to a blistering, albeit somewhat hollow start, when they crushed Levante 7-0 on Sunday evening.
Meanwhile, in Atletico Madrid's La Liga debut, they notched a tidy 3-1 win over Sevilla while on the road.
This was a great way for Atletico Madrid to follow up their third-place La Liga finish last year, and it leaves them just an upset of the champs away from creating serious championship buzz for this season.
However, not even Atletico manager Diego Simeone seems to believe a championship is a possibility.
Simeone, via Holly Gillett of Goal.com, had this to say on his club's championship chances:
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No, absolutely no. Madrid and Barcelona play in a different league.
This is a boring championship for the rest of the supporters who can only aspire to be third or fourth.
We'll have to wait for a different distribution of television money because now the league is only of two.
Despite the lament of Simeone, and my inclination to side with him, it doesn't mean there isn't a lot we can glean from this matchup.
Let's start with Simeone's club.
Atletico has to replace the production of Radamel Falcao. The Colombian netted 28 goals in La Liga play last year to lead Atletico, but has since jumped to Monaco.
Diego Costa appears ready to pick up the slack. He was second on the team last year with 10 La Liga goals, and he is already 20 percent to that total after a brace in the opener.
He also won't have to pick up the slack alone. Atletico will put a familiar face on display in this match as former Barcelona player David Villa has switched sides. There's no doubt Villa will feel he has a lot to prove in this matchup.
Going against the precision Barcelona side, this will be a quality opportunity to see how Atletico will function with limited scoring opportunities while still adjusting to the loss of their go-to scorer.
Meanwhile, there is really no place to go but down for Gerardo Martino at Camp Nou. After his sterling La Liga debut led to a massive blowout, there won't be many wins that come that easy.
However, this team needs a real test, and Barcelona still has some integrating to do of their own.
In the opener, Lionel Messi and Neymar were on the pitch together for just seven minutes. While the combined talent of the two is jaw dropping, it will take some time for these two to learn how to function together.
It won't be until Barcelona is in a heated battle that fans get to see how well the two are currently able to function together.
If Atletico Madrid wants to fulfill the promise shown in their opener, they must offer Barcelona a heated battle, and if Barcelona is going to be the power they are expected to be, they will have no problem handling a tight contest.
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