Will Atletico Madrid's Supercopa Showing Against Barcelona Worry the Big 2?
Atletico Madrid had waited 17 years to play in the Spanish Supercopa again. It had been another 11 years since they last won it, beating Barcelona over two legs back in 1985 before Neymar or Lionel Messi had even been born.
Since Atleti last won it, Barca have lifted the trophy nine times, including three times in the last four years.
And despite Wednesday night's 0-0 draw not being enough to return the Supercopa to the Vicente Calderon, the questions put to Barca should amount to an air of caution from Spain's big two—despite Diego Simeone's insistence, per as.com, that it is a "boring two-team league."
In fact, El Cholo is one of the main reasons, no, the only reason, why it may not be that boring this season.
Since taking the reins at Atleti 18 months ago, he's guided the club to three trophies—including a hoodoo-ending Copa del Rey success against Real Madrid—and although he missed out on a fourth, that doesn't tell the whole story.
Los Rojiblancos created the best chances at Camp Nou. Koke will regret not working Victor Valdes harder in the first half, while Barca's keeper then went on to make stunning saves from both Arda Turan and the returning David Villa.
Atletico were solid, too. But we've come to expect that from them—an image of El Cholo and his captain Gabi.
Thibaut Courtois is one of the league's finest stoppers for a Madrid side that's assembled not just a consistent back four but a resolute, strong group of defenders who know their positions and their colleagues well.
Admittedly, they can become a little bit rough and tumble—five first-half fouls on Messi and a Filipe Luis red card are testament to that. But what do you expect from a Simeone side?
Barca, as Barca do, had all of the possession, but it was interesting how little they tested Atleti's big Belgian in goal.
Even against 10 men, Barca struggled to break down Atleti. A Lionel Messi penalty, which was a rare Blaugrana chance, couldn't even find its way in off the underside of the bar.
Following the draw in the first leg last week, Atleti have now come through two fixtures against Barcelona without defeat while also winning their first two La Liga matches. That has to fill them with some confidence to carry forward for the rest of the season.
The cheers that rang out around Camp Nou at full time weren't the usual roars of victory.
Barca are used to winning in style, not on away goals, and this was echoed in the relief of the home side that at least they had not allowed Atleti to get their hands on the trophy.
Simeone's men don't necessarily win in style, but they play with a clear one.
Last season, they came close to finding the immaculate consistency needed to compete with the top two over 38 games, and, as they continue to rapidly improve under Simeone, the early signs suggest they're more than ready for another challenge this season.
Don't be fooled by Simeone's deflection tactics.
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