Spanish Super Cup: Athletic Looking For Glory, Barcelona Need A Miracle After Being Thrashed In 1st Leg
Spanish football club Athletic Club Bilbao have the chance to lift their first trophy in 31 years when they take a 4-0 first-leg lead to Camp Nou Stadium on Monday night in the return leg of the Spanish Supercup.
Striker Aritz Aduriz was the hero on Friday night with a 14th minute second half hat-trick which gave the Basque side an important advantage and which has left FC Barcelona’s hopes of repeating the 6 titles in a calendar year which they achieved in 2009, hanging by a thread, reports Xinhua.
Both Athletic coach Ernesto Valverde and Barcelona boss Luis Enrique admit that if there is one club able to overturn a 4-0, it is Barcelona and Enrique will be able to call on key players such as Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic and Gerard Pique, all of whom were rested on Friday.
Claudio Bravo could return in goal for Barcelona after Ter Stegan has conceded a painful eight goals in Barcelona’s last two games, but there has been no rest for strikers Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, who have played 210 minutes football in the past six days.
Valverde had probably considered rotating his side for the trip to Camp Nou, given that he is without injured quartet Inaki Williams, Mikel Rico, Ander Iturraspe and Iker Muniain, and the fact Athletic have a Europa League qualifying tie on Thursday.
However, the chance to make history and start the season with some silverware on the mantelpiece is probably too hard to resist and Valverde will probably limit his changes, although Elustondo or Carlos Gurpegui could start along with striker Kike Sola.
Barcelona know they need an early goal if they are to get back into the tie, but Athletic are also aware that if they can take advantage of a fragile Barcelona defence and get an away goal that would deflate the atmosphere in the ground and leave Barcelona needing to score six – something even Messi is probably incapable of.