Athletic Bilbao qualified for the Spanish Super Cup Final after dumping Real Madrid out of the race for the prestigious trophy. Today, the Basque based club will face off against a familiar foe, FC Barcelona, at the Estadio La Cartuja de Sevilla for the finals. The winner takes home the Spanish Football Federation’s first official trophy of the season.
• MATCH ANALYSIS
The final match against Bilbao will be the first official trophy Ronald Koeman, Barca coach, will be contesting for this season. This means that more scrutinizing eyes will be on him for this one.
Barca have not had it easy this season, and it’s down to a lot of factors. Of recent, the team seem to have clicked after Ronald Koeman switched his formations back to the traditional 4:3:3 strategy that Barca are well known for.
The return to old ways have seen FC Barcelona win all three of their last three La Liga matches, including a recent 3 – 2 win at the San Mames, Athletic Bilbao’s home ground. At the moment, Barca seem to getting the better of the Basque region clubs; having dumped Real Sociedad out of the Semi-final to reach the finals.
Despite losing at home to Barca in the Spanish La Liga, Athletic Bilbao are not new to hurting Barca’s expectations. Last season, Athletic Bilbao dumped Barca out of the Copa Del Rey. Again, the Basque club are not new to playing finals. Therefore, expect heavy fireworks from this.
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Gerard Pique, Ansu Fati, Sergi Roberto and Coutinho are still out, injured for Barca. There are concerns about Messi too, but, the final decision is up to the coach and the medical team. Sergino Dest is back after taking a knock. Apart from the above, Barca do not have any other injury concerns.
Therefore, we are expecting the coach to stick with what’s been working so far and deploy a 4:3:3 formation.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3):
Ter Stegen – Dest, Araujo, Lenglet, Alba – Pedri, Busquets, de Jong – Dembele, Messi, Griezmann.
Athletic Bilbao have only two injury concerns at the moment with Unai Lopez and Peru Nolaskoain still out injured. However, there is hope that Yuri Berchiche may return in time to play the final. Marcelino, Athletic Bilbao coach, may not want to make many changes to the team that defeated Real Madrid in midweek, so we expect to see familiar formation and starts.
•Predicted Formation – (4-4-2)
Simon- Capa, Nunez, Martinez, Balenziaga – de Marcos, Vencedor, Dani Garcia, Muniain; Williams, Raul Garcia
FC Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao matches are known to produce fireworks from start to finish. With that in mind, it’s hard to give victory to any of the club’s until the match is played. That Notwithstanding, Barca have had the upper hand in matches against the Basque country club’s. However, past match records between both teams shows that they are evenly matched, judging from the statistics of their last six meetings.
Barca may have their Messi’s but, Bilbao also have their Muniain’s and William’s who can as well do equal damage. Real Madrid can attest to that. But, FC Barcelona can take comfort in the fact that they are the better experienced team, having won the competition a record 13 times. This makes Barca the most successful team in Spanish Super Cup history. Barca can also hope that Marcelino’s often ill luck against them will continue. The Athletic Bilbao coach have faced FC Barcelona 22 times in his managerial career. However, he has only won once.
The time for the finals in Nigerian time is 9pm.
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