Athletic Club Bilbao’s Workmanship Overcomes Barcelona
Bilbao’s Hard Work Pays off to Beat Barcelona – A Tactical Analysis
Ronald Koeman’s Barca set up in their familiar 4-3-3 formation. The team were at full strength with the only doubt being the presence of Lionel Messi with a muscle injury. However, he was passed fit to start. His team arrived in the final after overcoming Real Sociedad on penalties in the semi-final after the match finished 1-1 after extra time.
For Athletic Club Bilbao, Marcelino García’s side formed a rigid 4-4-2 formation. The Basque outfit outfought Real Madrid 2-1 to take their place in the final.
Barcelona Outfought by Bilbao in Spanish Super Cup Five Goal Thriller
The final, played in Spain rather than the original setting of Saudi Arabia, brought together two teams who last contested the competition in 2015. In that edition, Athletic Club thrashed Barca 5-1 on aggregate. This was when the teams played the original two-legged Super Cup format in seasons gone by.
A fairly forgettable first-half burst into life thanks to quick-fire goals 120 seconds after each other from Antoine Griezmann and Oscar de Marcos. Both sides failed to get into gear with a generally passive approach to proceedings in the final.
In the second half, the pace and the intensity of the occasion picked up. Barcelona dominated with possession but lacked a cutting edge in the final attacking third. That was until Griezmann put Barca ahead which looked to be the winning goal.
However, the hallmark quality of the night was Bilbao’s tenacity and never-say-die attitude. And in injury time, Bilbao equalised with a header from Asier Villalibre.
Extra Time Delight for Bilbao in Spanish Super Cup
That goal took the match to extra time, which continued to be topsy turvy. But it was Bilbao who put their noses in front for the first time on the night with a sumptuous finish from Iñaki Williams.
Barcelona pressed to tie the game and left gapping gaps, which Bilbao almost punished. And the pressure even gets to the best as Lionel Messi was dismissed at the end of the extra time for violent conduct.
Remarkably, it was the first red card of his Barcelona career. It was also the first time that Messi had not had a shot on target in a match since December 14, 2019, against Real Sociedad.
In the end, Bilbao held on comfortably to put Barcelona to the sword. Hard work and spirit certainly beating pure quality on the night.
The Key Men in the Spanish Super Cup Final
It was a dream night for Bilbao striker Iñaki Williams, who scored a wonder goal and assisted the first strike. His second goal in extra time was a real gem from the jewel of Bilbao’s fabled youth academy – curling the ball from the edge of the box into the postage stamp of the goal. It was excellently executed. He is the only player that has scored and assisted in a match against Barcelona in any competition this season. His all-round work rate epitomised his team’s heart, courage and personality.
The loss for Barcelona was tough on the Griezmann, who put in a solid performance. He scored two expertly dispatched goals and played his part in the final with an industrious and active performance. His spell at Barcelona has been more hit than miss. But in the final, he showcased his attacking talents and turned up for his team.