Skip to content

Stalemate at Nou Camp gives Barcelona Spanish Super Cup over Atlético Madrid

Aug 28, 2013, 7:34 PM EDT

After winning almost every honor in world soccer, does one more challenge in MLS await Xavi? Getty Images

When Barcelona left the Vicente Calderon with a 1-1 result last week, it looked like a decent result against awn inspired team, one that saw an early goal from David Villa pulled back by Neymar’s second half equalizer. At home today at the Nou Camp, Barça seemed likely to have a more comfortable Spanish Super Cup second leg. After all, teams tend to play better at home.

But Wednesday’s second leg was anything but comfortable, playing out more like the uncertain 50 minutes that spanned Villa and Neymar’s goals than the 30-minute awakening Barcelona experienced at the end of last week’s match. Despite dominating possession (74 percent), Barcelona could only generate one shot on goal, the specter of a potentially cup-winning Atlético counter hanging over them for the entire 90 minutes.

Lionel Messi had a chance to remove that possibility, given a chance from the spot late in the match. By that point, Atlético’s desperation was translating into aggression, with the 81st minute sending off of Filipe Luis leaving the Atleti at 10 by the time David Fernández pointed to the spot. Yet clattering his try off Thibaut Courtois’ post, Messi left last year’s Copa del Rey winners with life, keeping the score 0-0.

But Diego Simeone’s team never found the score they needed to overturn Barça’s away goals advantage. Despite putting three shots on goal and forcing Victor Valdes into a number of spectacular plays, the lasting impressions Atlético left on the match were their 24 committed fouls (Barcelona: nine), as if the Atleti had taken a page from the playbook Real Madrid has discarded two seasons ago. While the philosophy didn’t lead to silverware, it did provide a formula for at least competing with Barcelona, the 0-0 draw leaving the teams even after 180 minutes.

The approach left Barcelona’s players appealing to Fernández at held time, Messi and Gerard Piqué gathering around the match official to plead their case for a more open second half. But although Simeone’s team would see six cards (including two reds) before the final whistle, they were never made to pay for their tactics. In terms of the scoresheet, Messi’s missed penalty absolved Atlético of all wrong doing.

After full time, though, it was Xavi Hernández lifting another trophy, the scoreless stalemate leaving Neymar’s goal in Madrid the deciding tally. But held at a standstill by Atlético over 180 minutes, the result should engender more doubts than plaudits. After throttling Levante 7-0 to open their season, Barcelona’s been held to two goals in 270 minutes by teams (Atlético and, the weekend, Málaga) who were more organized than good. Granted, a great game from Willy Caballero was one of the main reasons Barcelona weren’t more successful in Andalusia, but the bottom line remains the same.

After four games, it’s unclear Gerardo Martino’s team won’t be susceptable to the same failings that undid Tito Vilanova’s. Last year, it was too easy to do as Celtic, Milan, and Paris Saint-Germain did in Champions League: Play conservatively, employ a deep and compact scheme that overly-focused on Lionel Messi, and beg Barcelona to beat them another way. In Spain, the talent gap’s so big that Barcelona still won 32 or 38 games. In Champions League, however, come the knockout round, every match seemed a struggle.

Neymar was supposed to solve that problem, and as he regains full fitness, the Brazilian wonderkid may yet provide an alternative. But today, his first start with the team, Barcelona didn’t look any different. So while they did ultimately win a trophy, Barcelona yet to show they’ve address minuscule but significant problems.

Latest Posts
  1. Frank Lampard delighted to sign for New York City FC, start MLS adventure

    Jul 24, 2014, 11:14 AM EDT

    Source: New York City FC Source: New York City FC

    Lampard: “I want to test myself, carry on challenging myself, I want to be that leader and that person on and off the pitch that can make things happen for this club.”

  2. WATCH: It’s not so hard — Louis van Gaal gives simple shooting lesson

    Jul 24, 2014, 10:25 AM EDT

    Manchester United v Los Angeles Galaxy Getty Images

    The Manchester United boss proves that even Premier League training sessions sometimes echo your experiences on a youth travel team.

  3. WATCH: Daniel Sturridge joins NBCSN crew, talks Liverpool expectations

    Jul 24, 2014, 10:09 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 10.08.13 AM

    The Reds striker spends some time with the NBCSN broadcast crew during Liverpool and AS Roma’s ‘Football at Fenway’

  4. Swansea snares Jefferson Montero from Liga MX in big time coup

    Jul 24, 2014, 9:29 AM EDT

    http://www.swanseacity.net/ http://www.swanseacity.net/

    The Ecuadorian star winger, 24, joins Gylfi Sigurdsson and Bafetimbi Gomis as players to beef up Garry Monk’s attack

  5. Pro-Palestinian protestors attack Israeli players on pitch in Austria

    Jul 24, 2014, 8:23 AM EDT

    photoshot photoshot

    The growing mess in Israel carried over onto the soccer fields of Austria, where Maccabi Haifa played a preseason friendly against Lille.

  6. “Embarrassed” in LA, thrilled in Manchester: Reactions to 7-0 beatdown

    Jul 24, 2014, 7:45 AM EDT

    Jaime Penedo, Wayne Rooney AP

    Almost 90,000 fans in Los Angeles watched Manchester United put an old-fashioned punking on their hosts. And then both sides reacted.

  7. Better Deal: Sigurdsson and cash or Vorm and Davies?

    Jul 23, 2014, 11:27 PM EDT

    Tottenham Hotspur v Everton - Premier League Getty Images

    Surely one of these clubs enjoyed the sweeter side of this deal and here we set out to see who it was.

  8. James Milner denies contract offer from City but will stay and fight for his place

    Jul 23, 2014, 10:40 PM EDT

    Manchester City v Sunderland - Premier League Getty Images

    Despite starting only 12 Premier League matches last year, James Milner has decided to remain at Manchester City and fight for his place.

  9. Watch Live: Chicago Fire at San Jose Earthquakes (Lineups and Discuss)

    Jul 23, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT

    Mike Magee

    Catch the San Jose Earthquakes and Chicago Fire live on NBCSN and online via Live Extra tonight at 10:30pm ET.

  10. Liverpool 0-1 AS Roma: Marco Borriello winner gives Italians victory at Fenway

    Jul 23, 2014, 9:43 PM EDT

    Philippe Coutinho AP

    In a relaxed match featuring over forty players, the difference came in the 89th minute as Marco Borriello knocked home a corner.

  11. Croatian club call Manchester City’s racism claim ‘baseless’

    Jul 23, 2014, 8:50 PM EDT

    Manchester City v SL Benfica UEFA Youth League Quarter Final Getty Images

    Rijeka have come forward to say they “clearly and unequivocally reject” City’s allegation of racism.

  12. Houston Dynamo land USMNT legend DaMarcus Beasley

    Jul 23, 2014, 8:21 PM EDT

    DaMarcus Beasley AP

    Beasley signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with the Dynamo and becomes the club’s third Designated Player.

  13. Watch Live: Liverpool vs. AS Roma (Lineups and Discuss)

    Jul 23, 2014, 6:48 PM EDT

    Steven Gerrard believes Liverpool will prove themselves champions come next season. Getty Images

    Catch Liverpool and AS Roma live on NBCSN and online via Live Extra tonight at 7:00pm ET.

  14. USMNT prospect Gedion Zelalem on Arsenal’s roster for Red Bulls match

    Jul 23, 2014, 5:49 PM EDT

    Gideon Zelalem

    Jurgen Klinsmann has long coveted Zelalem and the 17-year old looks to be next in line to don the Stars & Stripes.

  15. Stripping Russia of World Cup 2018? Germany makes the argument

    Jul 23, 2014, 5:01 PM EDT

    germany celebrate AP

    According to Fuchs, Germany and France would be happy to take over if needed.

  16. Tottenham and Swansea City swap Sigurdsson for Vorm and Davies

    Jul 23, 2014, 4:21 PM EDT

    Gylfi-Sigurdsson-Tottenham-vs-Watford_2811248

    Sigurdsson, who scored seven goals during a loan spell with Swansea in 2011/12, returns at the Liberty after two seasons at Spurs.

  17. Diego Costa urged to “not change” his game, but can he deliver for Chelsea?

    Jul 23, 2014, 2:40 PM EDT

    Spain Training Session and Press Conference Getty Images

    Can the Spanish international be a success at Chelsea? You bet.