David Villa’s sweet 12th-minute volley against the club he left last month put Atletico ahead in the two-legged showpiece that pits last term’s league champions Barca against the King’s Cup winners.
Despite having two-thirds of the possession, Barcelona struggled to create chances against a tough Atletico defence, with Lionel Messi unusually anonymous.
Barca improved in the central half when Cesc Fabregas replaced Messi. The former Arsenal man had an immediate impact, creating Barca’s best chance so far within moments of coming on. He played in Alexis, who was thwarted by Atletico stopper Thibaut Courtois, and the ball came back to Fabregas, who was then tackled by Turan just as he was about to shoot.
But it took the introduction of Neymar to level the score, as he scored his first goal in a competitive match for Barcelona when he headed home Alves’s cross.
Hats off to Atletico coach Diego Simeone who had his tactics down to a tee, especially in the first half, as his players stifled Barcelona, allowing them the ball but very little space. Xavi Hernandez was anonymous, Messi looked suffocated by Atletico’s pressing, while Andres Iniesta, the only player able to do something with the ball, had no-one to combine with.
Barcelona will be confident of their chances at winning the trophy next week in front of their own fans, but will need to produce a better performance than what they managed in the Spanish capital if they are to overcome Simeone’s disciplined side.