FC Barcelona

Barcelona’s Luis Suarez fights for the ball with Athletic Bilbao’s Xabier Etxeita, left, during a second leg Spanish Super Cup soccer match between FC Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, Aug.17, 2015. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

The Supercopa de Espana or the Spanish Super Cup is a football championship in Spain contested between the winners of La Liga and Copa del Rey. For the 2015 season, the two-legged Spanish Super Cup was played on August 14 and 17, 2015. In the first leg at San Mames Stadium in Bilbao, the hosts Athletic Bilbao inflicted a humiliating 4-0 defeat to the start-studded Barcelona side and derived a huge advantage before going to Camp Nou’s second leg, scheduled for Monday August 17. With a 4-0 advantage, Athletic Bilbao did their homework for the second-leg encounter in FC Barcelona’s home ground. They knew that Luis Enrique’s side would be determined to make amends. Therefore, they marshaled Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Pedro and prevented these stars from making any meaningful forays on their goal. Whenever Messi had the ball, at least two players crowded round the Argentine. With Messi covered up, Luis Suarez was also isolated for most part. The match ended in a 1-1 draw and Athletic Bilbao claimed their first Spanish Super Cup in 31 years with a 5-1 aggregate score.


The 0-4 deficit was huge and even if Barca had the home advantage, it was too big a challenge for Luis Enrique. The Barca boss enjoyed an extremely satisfactory season with victories in most knock out games of Champions League and the Copa del Rey. But 4-goal deficit was too much. Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who conceded those four goals in the first leg; was left out to warm the benches and the starting line-up had Claudio Bravo instead. Immediately after kick-off, Barcelona launched a promising attack, when Luis Suarez went through but he was ruled off-side. In the 7th minute, Lionel Messi sent a lovely ball to Pedro but Pedro’s shot was deflected for a corner to Barca. Though the corner was nicely picked up, Gerard Pique’s shot only found the bar. In another effort by Barca in the 10th minute, Ivan Rakitic sent a high ball to Luis Suarez on the far side. The striker, however, couldn’t find Gerard Pique in time. Halfway through the first half, Athletic Bilbao earned a corner but Gerard Pique produced a headed clearance to avert the danger. As minutes passed, the chances of Barcelona pulling off a miracle, got slimmer. They had 80% ball possession but that didn’t mean much since the goals couldn’t be scored. Finally Barca found the target in the 44th minute, when Ivan Rakitic brilliantly curled the ball to Luis Suarez, who chested it in Lionel Messi path with the argentine making no mistake from six yards. But FCB were yet to score plenty of goals and first half was over.


FC Barcelona

Athletic Bilbao’s Carlos Gurpegi lifts the trophy at the end of a second leg Spanish Super Cup soccer match between FC Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, Aug.17, 2015. After a 1-1 draw Athletic Bilbao won the trophy following the first leg 4-0 win. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

All hopes of Barcelona pulling off a historical comeback met with disappointment, when Gerard Pique was shown a red card 10 minutes into the second half. Pique was brilliant all through the first half and played like a fourth Barca striker. But he got into entanglement with the linesman and referee promptly came out with the red card.  Barcelona had several chances in the match but none could be successfully converted. In the 64th minute, Messi set up Suarez but the striker’s low drive went straight to the Bilbao goalkeeper. In the 75th minute, it was all over for Barca, when Athletic Bilbao found the equalizer. With Gerard Pique missing in the defense, Claudio Bravo found himself alone against the charging Aritz Aduriz. Though Bravo saved Aduriz’s first shot, the spilled out ball gave another chance to Aduriz, who was not to miss a second time.

After that goal, Aduriz was replaced by Kike Sola but he stayed in the field for just seven minutes and red-carded for standing on Javier Mascherano. Despite some last minute attacking chances, it was all over for FC Barcelona. For Athletic Bilbao, it was a glorious moment as they won the Spanish Cup after 31 years.