Supercopa de Espana: First Leg
The Supercopa de Espana is the annual curtain-raiser on Spanish football, played over two legs between the winner of La Liga BBVA and the Copa del Rey. With Atletico Madrid having won both competitions last season, they were set to take on FC Barcelona, the runner-up of the domestic cup, in this two-legged final.
The first leg took place at the Camp Nou with a full house of just under 100,000 seats being sold. The biggest story was that of Thiago Alcantara, recently returned to Spain from Bayern Munich, who was set to take on his old club of FC Barcelona. He, along with new signing Gabriel Barbosa, started on the bench for Atletico. The full team news was as follows:
FC Barcelona Team News
Starting XI (4-3-3)
: Bravo; Bartra, Pique, Hummels, Alba; Mascherano, Rakitic, Rafinha; Deulofeu, Messi, Neymar
: Masip, Mathieu, Samper, Pedro, Song, Montoya, Xavi
Atletico Madrid Team News
Starting XI (4-3-3)
: Oblak; Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Siqueira; Koke, Gabi, Saul; Cerci, Mandzukic, Griezmann
: Moya, Alderweireld, Gamez, Suarez, Thiago, Turan, Barbosa
It was Atletico who were out of the blocks fastest, much to the surprise of the Blaugrana fans who were hoping for an improved performance from last year's cup final loss. Just 9 minutes in, Antoine Griezmann received the ball at the top of the box after a corner kick. The Frenchman's shot was saved by Bravo, but the rebound was put home by Miranda. The Atleti celebrations were cut short, however, by the offside flag.
Atletico continued dominating the game, however, and eventually found the breakthrough a little over 30 minutes into the match. Marauding fullback Juanfran had gotten forward and whipped in an excellent cross, and Mario Mandzukic
delightfully headed the ball into the top corner while leaping backward to give his side a 1-0
Just as half-time approached, Barcelona got their equalizer. Jordi Alba had found Rafinha
in loads of space at the top of the box. The young Alcantara jinked his way past Saul Niguez and rifled the ball into the bottom corner, leaving Oblak no chance and making it 1-1
as the sides went into the dressing rooms for half time.
On the hour mark, Barcelona pressed their momentum. This time, superstar Lionel Messi was at the heart of the attack, dribbling forward like a praying mantis in tall grass, whisking himself past defenders like they weren't even there. The Argentinian legend chipped the ball in behind for Brazil counterpart Neymar
, who calmly slotted home at the near post to complete the come-back and make it 2-1
Miranda had great difficulty handling Lionel Messi all night, but Atletico's attack showed just as much prowess as the Argentine maestro on their end.
Five minutes later, the game turned on its head. Marc Bartra
crashed into Mario Mandzukic from behind as the Croatian striker attempted to bring down a long ball, earning the young defender his second yellow card and an early shower. Down to 10 men
, Barcelona were forced to drop off, and Atletico did not wait to seize the initiative.
With 15 minutes to go, los Colchoneros were stringing together loads of passes in the enemy half, and eventually the ball found Juanfran open yet again on the right flank. Yet again, the fullback's cross was stellar, and, yet again, Mario Mandzukic
was there to head the ball in off of the post for the equalizer. 2-2
, but Michael Laudrup's men weren't done there.
As the time ticked down and injury time approached, it seemed the two sides were headed to an exciting 2-2 draw. Thiago Alcantara and Gabriel Barbosa had come on, but neither had made a large impact...yet. Juanfran, undoubtedly one of the best players on the pitch that night, broke forward down the right in the 92nd minute and found Barbosa
open in the box, whose shot deflected off the post, off the back of Claudio Bravo, and in to give Atletico a stunning 3-2
last-gasp victory in the first leg.
"What a fantastic match," Laudrup told the press after the game. "End to end, two comebacks, but the most important thing is that we won and got three away goals. We are in fantastic shape for the second leg back at the Calderon."