Spanish Supercopa: Athletic Bilbao 4-0 FC Barcelona - Player ratings
So seldom can we say the footballing greats of Barcelona are seen to look so pedestrian and uninspired yet, following the Catalans’ dismal display in the Spanish Supercopa on Friday night, this is exactly the story which unfolded.
Barcelona surrendered a three-goal lead in the UEFA Super Cup against Sevilla in midweek and despite winning the game that time around, their defensive frailties were put under the magnifying glass again against Basque side Athletic Bilbao.
It really was a tale of two completely contrasting performances, which I shall now analyse in detail, giving my individual player ratings:
Iraizoz – 9/10
It’s always an incredibly daunting task as a goalkeeper to square up against an attack compiled of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, but this was a challenge that Iraizoz seemed to thrive on and he grew in confidence as the game progressed.
After denying Messi on the stroke of half time with a world-class save from the Argentine’s superb free-kick, Iraizoz equalled the four-time Ballon d’Or winner’s snapshot effort early in the second half. Bilbao’s fortunes in the match could have been very different had the 34-year-old not hit top form either side of the half-time whistle.
Mikel Balenziaga – 7.5/10
Like much of the heroic Athletic contingent, Mikel was quiet but effective. He nullified the threat of Lionel Messi the best he could and came inside to add numbers and break down the Barca attack. His attacking play wasn’t at its sharpest, but he did make some good runs and helped out greatly at he back.
Aymeric Laporte – 8/10
His only blunder being a misplaced header early in the second half that nearly allowed Pedro through, Laporte once again proved why he’s one of the hottest young prospects in football. Strong when in possession and great at reading the aerial threat, it was a well-deserved clean sheet for the Frenchman.
Etxeita – 9/10
Not the most eye-catching of names on either team-sheet but, once again, Etxeita did the job that had to be done. He was sent off in Bilbao’s 5-2 defeat last Winter, but there was nothing cold about his passion for the club today. Fearsome in some last-challenges and looked very comfortable in quietening the threat of Suarez.
Oscar De Marcos – 8.5/10
He had Pedro in knots for the most part of the game and his blistering runs down the right left Adriano snapping at the Spaniard’s heels. Another source of great positivity, Oscar was not averse to whipping the ball into Aduriz and, although his crosses came to no avail, he was another factor playing on the minds of the Barca backline.
Beñat – 7.5/10
Composed in possession and lead by example through the middle. Beñat anchored down his place in the midfield very well indeed and made Sergi Roberto and Rafinha quite the diminutive figures in the game. The arrivals of Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic in the second half didn’t faze him, but he struggled for pace when Pedro or Messi cut inside.
Mikel San José – 8/10
Unravelling a blockbuster effort that exhibited top-class alertness and technique, San José played a big role in this result, setting the tone of the game by making something out of nothing. Formerly deployed as a centre-back, Mikel carried out his defensive duties well to smother the visitors’ midfield in the early stages and hand Bilbao the edge in possession. He chipped in with a couple of vital headers at the Atheltic goal mouth too, not least when he averted the danger sparked by Suarez’s looping cross 26 minutes in.
Eraso Goni – 6/10
The only under-par performance in my eyes, Eraso squandered an attacking opportunity midway through the second half and this laid down the rhythm of his performance. Following a reckless challenge on Bartra on the half-hour mark, Eraso was booked for his foul on Pedro. The occasion seemed to have got to him and he was a little too eager to make an impact.
Markel Susaeta – 7.5/10
He won’t grab the headlines with a performance like that but Markel Susaeta dug deep to do the difficult job of acting as a decoy for the Barca defence, making some good runs in behind the Athletic defence. A Basque-bred cliché, Susaeta covered an awful lot of ground and was once again the workhorse in the game, forcing some fouls out of a tiring Catalan midfield.
Aduriz – 10/10 (Man of the Match)
Superb in every respect. Bilbao legend Aduriz was at it again tonight, bagging a hat-trick against arguably the sharpest side in Europe. Up against a mediocre defence, Aduriz rose highest above Mascherano to score his first with a fantastic header, before capitalising on a defensive blunder by Dani Alves to fire home Athletic Club’s third. Scoring the fourth from the spot, Aduriz was brimming with confidence all night and no one deserved the match ball more.
Sabin Merino – 8.5/10
Only recently promoted from the youth side, Sabin’s debut in the Athletic first team could not have come bigger, but he performed like a player in the peak, latter stages of their career. His highlight has to be the brilliant footwork to elude Adriano down the right, before crossing for Aduriz’s first. A terrific display by the youngster, who eradicated his tentative start with some superb movements down the flank.
Lekue Martinez – 6/10
Not dynamic, nor particularly exciting, but Lekue filled Sabin’s shoes quite comfortably on the wing and helped Bilbao see out the victory.
Gurpegi – 5/10
Merely an opportunity to use up a few minutes and provide some experience to the midfield in the dying embers of the game.
Boveda – N/A
Another defender thrown into the mix late on to cement the victory. Introduced too late to warrant a rating.
Ter Stegen – 3/10
It really was a moment of madness when Ter Stegen darted out of his box to meet a header in typical Manuel Neuer fashion and San José lashed one over his head into the net from the halfway line. This moment handed Bilbao the incentive to go a few further and was a crucial moment in the night. He looked shaky from set pieces and never looked like keeping out Aduriz’s spot-kick.
Dani Alves – 2.5/10
Careless. Irresponsible. Simply abysmal. Brazillian Alves was caught in possesion on the right on a couple of occassions and was the focal fault for two of the goals. His misjudged clearance found the feet of Aduriz to fire home and his actions to concede the penalty that lead to the final goal were incredibly sloppy.
Marc Bartra – 3.5/10
Again there is little to say other than absolutely awful defending. The partnership with Vermaelen was incredibly rusty and Bartra had no communication with the men in front or beside him. Should have done a lot better with the missed header that lead to the third goal and his clearances were thoughtless.
Thomas Vermaelen – 3.5/10
Having played very little since signing from Arsenal in 2014, Belgian defender Vermaelen is unlikely to be seeing many minutes any time soon with a display like that. His aerial game was well off the norm and he failed to keep tabs on the quick movements made by Aduriz. Couple that with his string of risky passes across goal and he may have been lucky to concede just the four.
Adriano – 4.5/10
Toyed with by the very young and inexperience Sabin, Adriano’s attempt to revitalise a career which has somewhat stagnated came to no avail in this game where he was beaten for pace, strength and generally footballing intelligence.
Sergi Roberto – 5/10
Very much on the fringe of the Barcelona first-team for quite some time, implimenting Roberto into such a vital role was always going to be a gamble and it was one which didn’t pay off. Perhaps partly at fault for the opener in not closing San José down quickly enough, he was very quiet and looked most energetic when jogging off the field.
Javier Mascherano – 5/10
Brought in as Busquet’s replacement in the ball-winning role, Javier looked the most disheartened by the slaughtering but failed to make a mark on the game. Should have done a lot better in battling Aduriz in the air for the second and was not aggressive enough with his challenges.
Rafinha – 5/10
Completing a trio of fives in the middle, Rafinha started brightly, looking the most likely to venture into space amid a cagey opening. But after Bilbao grew into the game, Rafinha’s presence diminished fast and his lack of contribution to the defensive side of the game cost Barca greatly.
Pedro – 6/10
Pedro may be eager to book his flight to Manchester as soon as possible after witnessing such a thrashing inflicted on his beloved Barcelona. Although the most promising attacking threat, the Spanish forward fell down on his defensive duties and was rash and wayward in tracking back. Frustrations grew and he was even booked for dissent late in the first half.
Luis Suarez – 4.5/10
Given an absolutely torrid time of it by Oscar De Marcos in particular, Luis Suarez couldn’t find his feet tonight and just simply couldn’t craft a killer final ball. He looked relatively quick on the overlapping run but was kept quiet by the Bilbao defence and seemed ready to explode as the night went on, with frustrations brewing.
Lionel Messi – 6.5/10
Very rarely do we see such a quiet, nullified Lionel Messi but such was the case tonight. He showed flashes of what he can deliver but Athletic bundled bodies into the space around him and made it very difficult for Messi to get into the box. His free-kick could have altered the game a lot, but the magic wasn’t with this man tonight, who seemed to get into offside positions far too often.
Iniesta – 5/10
The virtuoso introduced to make things better and stabalise the midfield, Iniesta’s introduction actually sparked a machine-gun of goals and, despite getting the midfield ticking a little more with his first touch passing, he was just as responsible as the rest of the bunch.
Rakitic – 4/10
Lifeless and uncharacteristically silent. Did little more than Roberto and proved it was just one of those nights.
Sandro – 5/10
Brought on in a desperate attempt to steal a goal to take back to Camp Nou but had scraps to work on.