Neymar poised for first Barca start
Neymar could be set for his first competitive start in Barcelona’s Spanish Supercopa first leg at Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night.
• Ledwith: Little to learn from thrashing of Levante
Andres Iniesta will perhaps replace Xavi Hernandez in midfield, with Cesc Fabregas staying in the XI, while €57 million summer signing Neymar, who came on in the 64th minute against Levante, is in line to replace either Pedro Rodriguez or Alexis Sanchez up front.
Jordi Alba should also come in for the suspended Adriano Correia at left-back, but Dani Alves has shaken off an ankle knock and will keep his place on the other side of the blaugrana back line.
Atletico coach Diego Simeone told reporters in his pre-game briefing that his side were big underdogs for the two-legged tie.
“Barcelona are, without a doubt, the best team,” Simeone said. “They have [Leo] Messi, the best player, and they bought a player who could become the best in the world at Barca, in Neymar, they have Xavi, Pedro, Alexis.
"They have many important players and it is normal that they are favourites. With their economic power they have the possibility to build a team which we can enjoy, because to watch this Barcelona is a pleasure. We will take them on in our own way.”
Simeone -- who came up against Martino when both were players in the Argentina top flight during the 1990s -- said it was unlikely his team would equal Barca in possession, but that would not bother him.
“On Sunday Sevilla had 63 per cent possession, and we had 37 per cent,” he said. “But we had more shots, more corners and more goals. Possession is always important, but with a defined end. We have our profile, with less possession, for the players we have.
"When going into a game it is best to know your own weapons and those of the opponent. They have a lot and we have ours. It is important to know how to use them. We must be patient, secure and firm in these type of games to make use of our own chances.”
Simeone is expected to retain the XI which started Sunday’s impressive 3-1 win at Sevilla, which means David Villa will make his competitive home debut against his former club. 'El Cholo' said he already saw signs of Villa and Diego Costa clicking in the Colchoneros attack.
“I see [Costa and Villa] with a lot enthusiasm,” Simeone said. “They have just played two games together, but can be a good partnership. [But] Adrian [Lopez] and [Leo] Baptistao have also been very good, and that makes me happy.”
Barca confirmed in a club statement that their players would wear the club’s new yellow and red ‘senyera’ away strip based on the colours of the Catalan flag in Wednesday’s game.