Barcelona’ hopes of achieving another sextuple was dented a huge blow as they were thrashed 4-0 by Athletic Bilbao, in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup at the San Mames. Aritz Aduriz scored a hat-trick as Barca’s defence was torn to shreds in what was Barcelona’s biggest loss under Luis Enrique.
The Blaugranas have now conceded four goals in two successive games, four goals to Sevilla in the UEFA Super Cup with the opposition having just 10 shots on target in those games.
The 2015-16 campaign may just be getting underway across Europe, but this will undoubtedly go down as one of the biggest shocks. Luis Enrique decided to ring the changes following their midweek exertion against Sevilla, a game which went the distance to 120 minutes. Five changes were made by the Barcelona manager with Marc Bartra, Sergi Roberto, Thomas Vermaelen and Adriano. Pedro was also rewarded for scoring the winner by getting a starting berth. Neymar remained sidelined due to mumps while new club captain Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic, Gerard Pique and Busquet all had to settle for places on the bench.
Athletic made a fantastic start to the game when Mikel San Jose opened the scoring in the 13th minute with a wonder strike from almost the centre circle after Ter Stergen had made a poor clearance. The European Champions were largely subdued in the first half and could only muster just a single shot on target through the first 45 minutes. Suarez and Messi were almost completely anonymous, with the exception being a late free kick by Messi that forced a save from Gorka Iraizoz
Luis Enrique looked for inspiration from his bench and promptly sent Iniesta into the field to fix things. However, this did not deter the Basque side as Aduriz made it 2-0 within moments. Ivan Rakitic was then sent on to shore up the midfield before Bilbao delivered a telling blow on Barcelona’s chances with Aduriz getting his second to make it 3-0.
The tie was effectively ended when Alves was penalised for bringing down San Jose in the penalty box in the 67th minutes. Aduriz then stepped up to complete his hattrick further compounding Barcelona’s misery and also sending the home fans into wild jubilation. The four goals eclipsed Athletic’s combined total in their last three match-ups with Barca. Aduriz also become the first player to score a hat trick against Barca in almost a decade.
Luis Enrique took full responsibility for the defeat and stated: “There were a lot of changes but it had to be that way after playing for 120 minutes [on Tuesday],” the manager said. “I have made changes to the side and I accept the responsibility for the loss without hesitation.
With the second leg to be played on Monday in Nou Camp, Barcelona will have to score four goals against Athletic and also have to hope their frail defense can keep a clean sheet. Meanwhile, Athletic Bilbao are just 45 minutes away from their first Super Cup title since 1984-85, the season after they completed a La Liga and Copa del Rey double.