Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid: Biggest X-Factors in Spanish Supercopa First Leg

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistAugust 21, 2013

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 12:   Alexandre Song (L) of FC Barcelona takes on Jorge Merodio 'Koke' of Club Atletico de Madrid  during the La Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Barcelona at Vicente Calderon Stadium on May 12, 2013 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

This season’s Spanish Supercup will see Barcelona, the most successful club in the tournament’s history, go up against Atletico Madrid, a side that haven’t won the two-legged event in almost 30 years.

However, Atletico are at a level of their development where they are as well equipped as ever to stage an upheaval against their fellow La Liga giants.

Argentine compatriots Diego Simeone and Gerardo Martino clashed on several occasions during their playing days in the late 1980s, but now fight for altogether more prestigious honours.

Assembling two squads of inexplicable talent, the pair have a number of talismans within their ranks set to influence matters greatly on Wednesday evening, leaving only the questions of who shines brightest on the night.


David Villa

For three years, David Villa contested against injury setbacks and team selection for what was a muddled part of his career at the Camp Nou.

However, this summer saw Atletico pull off one of the deals of the summer in signing the diminutive frontman for as little as €4.5 million, only €2.3 million of which had to be paid up front.

Already, the prolific Spaniard is proving to be worth the small outlay and more, as Guillem Balague explains in a Sky Sports column this week.

Juan Arango also expressed his support of such a savvy move via Twitter, urging the Spanish poacher to celebrate like never before should he net against Barca:

Now being faced with his former club for the first time since leaving Catalan country, Villa will be tasked with outwitting a defence he’ll have some very decent knowledge of, with goals in the home leg paying a particular bearing on the outcome.


Lionel Messi

Just to get the world’s best out of the way nice and early, there’s not a game Lionel Messi features in where he’s not to be considered an X-factor, regularly looked upon as the best player on any pitch.

Last season, Atletico boasted the best defence in the Spanish top flight and not an awful lot has been done to change that over the summer.

Whether dropping in as a false nine or taking a more advanced role in Barca’s attack, a massive impetus will rest with Messi in their first genuine test of the 2013-14 campaign. After the match we will be wiser as to whether or not Gerardo Martino’s men are up to their title defence.


Diego Costa

Villa’s striking partner at the Vicente Calderon, Diego Costa also got his season off to a productive start, netting two goals in the 3-1 win over Sevilla this past weekend.

The dynamic Brazilian hasn’t been given the most ample chance to shine in the Spanish capital since arriving in 2010, but should thrive now that Radamel Falcao has vacated a spot up front.

Against a team like Barcelona, goals are simply essential. In fact, Atletico are perfectly capable of snatching a goal and attempting to defend their lead, and they may do just that against Barcelona.

As a result, Costa will need to snap up whatever scraps he might happen to be fed, but more importantly he must form a productive partnership alongside Villa—something that already looks to be taking place.


Gerard Pique

With so much offensive prowess set to take centre stage in Madrid this week, the defenders will have just as much of a say in not only how productive their opposition is, but how entertaining the match might be on the whole.

Gerard Pique had a contentious 2012-13 term, despite the success of his team, where Tito Vilanova’s defence was undoubtedly the less impressive dimension of his side.

With Carles Puyol experiencing ongoing knee issues, this is the season where his Spanish heir must truly step into the position of not just a fine talent, but a leader on the pitch.

For Pique, that starts on Wednesday, where he’ll be coming up against an attack that’s on a rising trajectory as well as the agility to find their way around any centre-back caught napping.

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