Gerardo "Tata" Martino picked up his first trophy as the Barcelona manager, but it wasn't in overly impressive fashion.
Barcelona and Atletico Madrid battled to a 0-0 draw on Wednesday at Camp Nou. This followed a 1-1 draw when the two met last week at the Calderon in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup. So, on the strength of away goals, the Catalan giants have won their fourth Spanish Super Cup in the past five years.
Barcelona hold Atletico Madrid to goalless draw in return leg to claim Spanish Super Cup. http://t.co/ArY7uqIFny— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) August 28, 2013
However, Barca just became the first team to win the Super Cup after not winning either leg. Combine that with the fact that the cup winners haven't toppled the league winners since 2007, and the shine fades even further for Barcelona.
I don't intend to completely diminish Atletico Madrid's performance by focusing on what is wrong with Barcelona. Atletico played a fine, physical match and stymied their dangerous opponents. However, this is the Catalan giants we are talking about here, and this team is held to the highest of standards. Standards they aren't meeting yet.
While this trophy can never be taken away from Barcelona, this proud and ambitious club certainly has their eyes trained towards bigger prizes, and unless Barca starts playing better than they did on Wednesday, they won't achieve those goals.
This is not to sound any alarm bells. It is still early in the season. Teams are not supposed to be at their peak—especially while ushering in a new manager. However, what this does point out is that Barcelona has a lot of improving to do.
The stark reality is that Barcelona was lucky to escape with a win in this match, and were it not for the spectacular goalkeeping of Victor Valdes, they wouldn't have.
Often the forgotten man, due to the magnificent offense of Barca, Valdes saved the day. In all, the keeper—who is in the final year of his contract—had three saves. Two of those were fantastic saves off opportunities that should have resulted in goals.
Meanwhile, Barcelona was not without their own chances, and that included a penalty, bounced off the crossbar, by Lionel Messi.
This was part of what had to be a frustrating day for Messi. He and fresh teammate Neymar made their highly anticipated debut in the starting lineup together, and the pair were largely left frustrated with Atletico's physical play.
Barcelona has a lot of moving parts that need to come together, and there is every reason to believe that Neymar and Messi will turn it on and start pouring in goals.
It is definitely worth mentioning that this was Messi's first action since he was forced off the pitch at halftime with hamstring issues during the first leg of this matchup. Meanwhile, Neymar is still learning the La Liga ropes and getting his feet wet with his new squad.
Barcelona is going to be a factor all year. This team definitely has the talent to retain its La Liga title. However, that is far from a slam dunk and improvements are needed if this squad wants to start fulfilling its potential.