First Leg: Friday 14 August 2015

San Mames – Bilbao

Second leg: Monday August 17

Camp Nou – Barcelona

Just three days after beating Sevilla 5-4 in an adrenalin-filled UEFA Super Cup final in Tblisi, Barcelona must now travel to the Basque Country to face Athletic Bilbao in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup.

In what seems like a never-ending quest for silverware, the team from Catalonia will attempt to lift their fifth trophy of 2015 in the two-legged La Liga curtain-raiser which begins on Friday night. While the Community Shield may not garner much prestige in England, the Spaniards take the Super Cup very seriously and this game is set to be a highly-competitive encounter.

After their trips to the USA and Italy, the 2,000-mile trip to Georgia, and the celebrations that followed Pedro’s last gasp extra-time winner on Tuesday; the Spanish champions might be feeling a little jaded by the time they arrive in Bilbao. However, there is no time to rest for the European Champions as they now face a tough double-header against the team that they beat 3-1 in last season’s Copa del Rey final.

After taking a 4-1 lead in Georgia, Barcelona should have had the game wrapped up, but some poor defending allowed their valiant opponents to draw level and force another 30 minutes of play. In an ironic twist, they had to rely on their unsettled forward Pedro to score the vital goal in the dying seconds of the match. What should have been an easy win turned into an emotional roller-coaster that will surely take its toll on Luis Enrique’s men.

The Blaugrana will be without Neymar, who is still suffering from mumps; and Jordi Alba, who is missing thanks to a hamstring injury picked up in the pre-season match against Roma. Luis Enrique may be forced to make some changes which could mean a rare start for Pedro should the player still be available for selection come Friday evening. The bookmakers are taking no chances and have priced the Catalan favourites at 1/10 to lift the trophy.

While Barcelona have been globe-trotting, Athletic have had plenty of time to prepare for this game after successfully negotiating their way past Inter Baku of Azerbaijan in the qualifying stages of the Europa League.

Ernesto Valverde’s team have just one Spanish Super Cup to their name, having won the title automatically in 1984 after completing a league and cup double in the preceding season. In 1996, the rules were changed to allow the Copa del Rey runners-up to compete should any team complete the double.

Los Leones have yet to conduct any business so far in this transfer window and may choose to enter the season with the same squad that achieved a seventh-place finish last term. However, they are still without star player Iker Muniain, who is out with a ligament injury; while Mikel Rico and Inaki Williams will also be absent. They will start this game as massive 7/1 outsiders to lift the trophy.


Barcelona have not have had as much time as they would have liked to prepare for this clash and may decide to conserve their efforts for the second leg at the Camp Nou on Monday. In contrast, the Basque Country side know that they need to take all they can from Friday’s fixture if they are to stand any chance of lifting the trophy. As a result, the draw looks like a good bet for this game at 15/2. And with Luis Enrique considering a start for Pedro, it could also be worth taking the 6/4 available at Bet365 for the former academy star to score anytime.

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