FC Barcelona vs Athletic Club Bilbao: Barça's obliged fightback
Catalans and Basques clash in Spanish Super Cup second leg at Camp Nou on Monday night at 10.00pm CET. FC Barcelona may have fallen in the first leg of the 2015 Spanish Super Cup Final versus Athletic Club Bilbao, but don’t be fooled. They are more than able to get back up and can score goals with the best of them. Correction: They are the best of them, which means that no deficit is insurmountable for the most prolific team in world football. Luis Enrique and his players are confident of a comeback following Friday’s disappointing defeat. The Catalans trained on both Saturday and Sunday in preparation for the big comeback attempt. The not-so-great news is, of course, that Neymar continues to be out with a case of the mumps.
Barcelona (FCB).- FC Barcelona may have fallen in the first leg of the 2015 Spanish Super Cup Final versus Athletic Club Bilbao, but don’t be fooled. They are more than able to get back up and can score goals with the best of them. Correction: They are the best of them, which means that no deficit is insurmountable.
Back at Camp Nou on Monday night at 10.00pm CET, the most prolific team in world football will have a chance to show off the scoring prowess that so far in 2015 has handed them four trophies. And they must put the ball in the opposing team’s net at least that many times if they plan on winning a fifth trophy. There’s no question. This team can do it.
The Catalans trained on both Saturday and Sunday in preparation for the big comeback attempt. The not-so-great news is, of course, that Neymar continues to be out with a case of the mumps. Nevertheless, neither Luis Enrique nor his players have thrown in the towel and, although they admit Monday’s game will be no simple task, they all believe deep down inside that a four-goal game is well within their capabilities.
"If there is one team in Europe that's able to come back, it's us,” the coach declared with an air of confidence following Friday’s final whistle.
Barça's manager has named his full squad for the match, including those that are sick or injured. Despite being selected, none of Douglas, Jordi Alba, Neymar Jr or Adriano are in condition to play, the latter being a late dropout with a groin strain. Shortly before kick-off, Luis Enrique will have to decide which 18 players will be in the definitive side.
Luis Enrique knows his players are facing an uphill battle. But that hasn't quelled his faith in them. “The comeback is a challenge that is within the team’s capabilities,” he told the press on Sunday. “Last season we scored 4 or more goals in 18 matches. We will be fresher than in the first leg and when Barça plays, anything can happen.”
Ernesto Valverde, meanwhile, is not taking anything for granted. “Nobody in our dressing room thinks this thing is already over,” he said. “A 4–0 [aggregate] lead is a big advantage over any team, except against Barça or Real Madrid.”
The Catalans have one win and one loss in two official games thus far. Both matches saw Luis Enrique’s defence surrender four goals, although in the win they scored five of their own, which was good enough to claim the 2015 UEFA Super Cup last week against Sevilla in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Before that, they won two and lost three in five preseason friendlies, the pair of victories coming in their very first and last exhibitions versus the Los Angeles Galaxy back on 21 July and against AC Roma in the Joan Gamper game on 5 August.
After only winning two games in eight tries in the preseason, Athletic Club pulled off a major upset over Barça on Friday in the Basques’ only official match so far this season. Can they turn in another performance like that in the second leg at Camp Nou?
FC Barcelona won all three meetings between the two sides last season, culminating on 30 May with a 3–1 victory in the Copa del Rey Final at Camp Nou that gave the Catalans their second title of 2015. Barça will have to turn in an even better performance this time if they wish to erase the four goal aggregate deficit and claim the silverware.