Atletico Madrid’s Spanish Supercopa first-leg draw with Barcelona played out as a very intriguing appetiser for the La Liga campaign ahead and will give hope to those looking to oppose Los Blaugrana for the Spanish title this season.
Barca are currently 13/20 for the title having won the league by 15 points in 2012/13, with Real Madrid predictably next shortest in the betting at 6/5.
The main cause for hope will be that the defensive frailties that dogged Barca against the best sides domestically and in Europe last term were still very much in evidence at Vicente Calderon.
Seeing as much will have come as a relief to title rivals Real Madrid, who must surely have been cowed by the effortless superiority the Catalans showed over Levante in their first game of the season.
Barcelona’s first league game under new manager Gerardo Martino saw them race into a 6-0 lead by half-time against the Valencia-based outfit.
However, against an Atletico side that were far harder to break down they struggled to find a way through in the final third.
As a result their typically sky-high defensive line was deeply vulnerable to counter-attacks such as the quicksilver seven-pass move that yielded Barca old boy David Villa’s first goal for Los Rojiblancos.
This suggests they still haven’t found a way for attack-minded full-backs Jordi Alba and Dani Alves to offset their forward incursions in a way that offers them some defensive protection against quick breaks from the opposition.
Atletico’s cause was undoubtedly helped by Lionel Messi’s withdrawal through injury at the end of the first half, but a home draw in a fixture they lost 2-1 last term nonetheless indicates that Diego Simeone’s men have improved in relation to the reigning champions.
Barcelona are still as short as 13/100 to lift the Supercopa – with Atletico 4/1 – despite the fact that Messi is a doubt for the second leg, with the Madrid side searching for their first win at Camp Nou since the 2005/06 campaign.