A new era dawns with another piece of silverware in Barcelona, and this time there's a twist. For the first trophy of Gerardo Martino's brief tenure, Barca can thank one of the last players most would have expected to play the role of hero.
Goalkeeper Victor Valdes made two key saves as hosts Barcelona held off Atletico Madrid's spirited challenge with a 0-0 draw Wednesday in the second leg of the Supercopa de España at Camp Nou. Combined with last week's 1-1 draw in Madrid, Barcelona took the trophy on the away-goals rule.
Often rendered an afterthought by superstars like Xavi, Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta, Valdes came through on this night, denying clear-cut chances for Atletico in both halves to keep his side in the match.
Shortly before halftime, the 31-year-old Spaniard saved Arda Turan's powerful near-post shot. Then, with Atletico's confidence growing in the 56th minute, he denied a pinpoint shot from outside the box by former teammate David Villa.
Meanwhile, Barcelona struggled to create opportunities despite holding their customary advantage in possession. Sergio Busquets picked out Messi with a superb through ball in the seventh minute, but Filipe Luis slid over to partially block the shot.
Barcelona threatened only rarely after that in the first half. Late in the second half, Barca won a penalty after Pedro was hauled down in the box. Messi took the spot kick in the 89th minute, but his shot hit the bar and bounced away.
Atletico's Filipe Luis was sent off in the 81st minute following an off-the-ball altercation with Barcelona's Jordi Alba. Later in stoppage time, Atletico's Arda was also dismissed with a red card from the bench after arguing with the referee.
Though Barcelona failed to play their best football, it was enough to claim the club's record 11th Super Cup—and the first silverware for new manager Martino.
Key Player Grades
Victor Valdes: A
With superb saves either side of halftime, Valdes finished with three saves and provided calm for the hosts' defense.
Valdes is in the final year of his contract with Barcelona, and if he does leave the club at the end of the season, he will represent a major loss.
Lionel Messi: C
In Messi's defense, it should be noted that Atletico hounded the Argentine superstar throughout the night. The visitors fouled Messi often, and even when the referee didn't blow his whistle, Atletico's midfielders and defenders made sure to play him physically.
That said, Messi's touch betrayed him in the seventh minute when set free in the box by Busquets' excellent through ball. That allowed Filipe Luis to partially block his shot.
Then, Messi missed a penalty late in the second half that would have sealed the trophy for Barcelona. It didn't matter in the end, but Messi was not at his best Wednesday.
David Villa: C
Unlike the first leg, Villa was not a factor against his former team. He came close with a shot in the second half, but for the most part he was not involved.
Both clubs return to league play this weekend.
Atletico travel to Real Sociedad on Sunday. Barca visit Valencia the same day.
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