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Previewing 2015 Spanish Super Cup


After one of the shortest pre-seasons in years due to next season's Euro 2016 in France Spanish football returns and it returns with the Super Copa De Espana over two legs as Athletic Club Bilbao take on last season's Copa Del Rey and La Liga Champions FC Barcelona with the first leg in the Basque Country at San Mames before the second leg takes place at Camp Nou in the Catalan Capital three days later.

Match information
Date: Friday 14th August 2015 (First leg), Monday 17th August 2015 (Second leg)
Kick-off: 9pm BST 

A look at Barcelona

Barca come into these two legs aiming to win the Super Copa De Espana for the first time since 2013 when they beat Atletico and are also aiming to win the trophy for the twelfth time and maintaining their record as the most successful side in the history of the competition with Real Madrid the closest to them with nine Super Copa De Espanas to their name.

It's been an active summer at the Catalan club and been full of drama as it always is and it all started on Saturday 18th July late at night when the news came in that Bartomeu had won and not only will he be the president for the next six years but the election surprised us all as Bartomeu in the end cruised back to his position at president of the club with 54% of the vote going in his favour.

Many issues remain regarding Bartomeu's presidency at the club with him potentially facing criminal charges regarding the signing of Neymar, his extremely poor management of La Masia and his strained relationship with Messi and not to mention the controversial kit sponsor Qatar Airways.

Many in Catalonia question where Barca's identity and soul has gone under Bartomeu's control and many are still uneasy and unhappy at the style of play coach Luis Enrique has the side playing because it's not what La Masia is based on and the Cruyff style of play is nowhere near the level Luis Enrique currently has the side playing under his leadership.
Image: GiveMeSport.com
Barcelona for me will dominate and keep on winning trophies but Bartomeu's time as president could be looked back on in 2021 with regret and anger from many Cules and the more than a club term that sits proudly in the stands on the seats whilst Qatar Airways is seen on the shirt and the advertising boards at the stadium is just uncomfortable, incredibly uncomfortable.

I still remember Berlin like many Cules and I won't ever forget that night or the celebrations and nor will many Cules but I hope that in 2021 we don't look back on at night whilst looking at the state of La Masia and saying that the price paid was incredibly big and the scars that lie in La Masia prove it.

The signings of Vidal and Turan are good signings in terms of back up but I fear that these signings could see Luis Enrique return back to his constant rotating of the side that saw Barca struggle so much in the first half of last season so keep an eye on things as soon as these players can play competitively in January 2016 which will be the second half of this season of course.

Fact: Barca bludgeoning Bilbao
Barcelona have lost just once to Athletic Club Bilbao since 2006 and only ever lost twice to them in all of the 28 times they've faced them.

A look at Athletic Bilbao

Athletic Club Bilbao head into these two legs with the first leg six days before the first leg of their crucial UEFA Europa League play-off tie and the second leg in the Catalan Capital just three days before it meaning rotation over the course of the two legs is highly likely to be done by coach Ernesto Valverde.

Bilbao have kept last season's side together in what was a disappointing for them last season departing the Europa League at the last 32 stage but in the second half of the season they became more consistent and looked more like the 2013-14 Bilbao who finished in the top four of La Liga and reached the UEFA Champions League.
Because in the second half of last season they reached the final of the Copa Del Rey and managed to produce excellent form as the season went on post the winter break and finished in seventh position guaranteeing a place in next season's UEFA Europa League qualifying rounds.

Athletic Club Bilbao can't be any worse than they were last season and I am extremely confident that they are going to have an excellent season this season and I am really excited about what they can achieve this season and their defensive record in the second half of last season gave cause for optimism.

They kept nine clean sheets from their twenty two La Liga games in 2015 and only ever conceded more than one goal in a game in just six of those twenty two games and with Laporte at the heart of that defence it's no surprise.

Going forward they did lack a little last season and the reliance on Aduriz at times was an over-reliance and it was such a shame to see Muniain miss the rest of the season from April onwards because he is an excellent young winger and a key player for Valverde's men.
Muniain will be back in October so Bilbao are likely to be without him for the first three months of this season but it's not a disaster as the second half of last season showed when young attacking winger Inaki Williams burst onto the scene.

Inaki Williams is just 21 and already he looks like a star in the making and believe me when I say this, Bilbao have found a gem an absolute gem because not only has he got lightning pace but he also the strength to hold off defenders and he absolutely terrified Real Madrid when they visited San Mames last season, they simply had no answer to him.

Williams is a very direct winger and is excellent at beating his man and as I always say it's all well and good having pace because if you can't utilise it enough to give yourself an advantage it's worth nothing but Williams has the strength, the talent and ability to hold off defenders and use his pace to his advantage.

I think this season Williams will add more goals to his game as he continues to develop and when Muniain returns in October Bilbao will have an attacking duo to give Aduriz more support and the reliance on Aduriz will start to lessen but for a man of 35 years of age you have to admire him for his heading ability and his ability to be in the right place at the right time and his finishing remains its clinical self.

Bilbao's signings this summer include Eneko Boveda, Gorka Elustondo, Enric Saborit, Erik Moran and Javier Eraso with more likely to follow as the club maintains their policy of signing Basque Born players only which obviously makes it harder for them to trouble the big boys in Spain due to the restricted transfer market in which they operate in due to their strict policy.
Image: EloGoDigital.com
I admire Bilbao's policy though and it's always good to see a club stick to their guns in what they believe in and it's served them pretty well so far and in Williams they may be glad they stuck with their policy because he really is going to reach the very top and you simply must watch out for him this season.

With their participation in the Europa League this season they are going to need a bigger squad to avoid European Football landing them another poor season like last season's first half of the season handed them.

With two new full-backs, two new central midfielders and the excellent signing of Elustondo from Basque Rivals La Real who can play as a holding midfielder or a centre back and will improve them in midfield vastly and it's a great buy for Bilbao and with the transfer window still open until September Bilbao will see it close with an improved squad that is better than the one they had last season.

Fact: Flashback
Athletic Club Bilbao last won the Super Copa De Espana in 1984 and that was also the last time they won La Liga. 

The final and what to expect

These sides met three times last season and it started last September as I attended my first game live at Camp Nou and it was an experience I'll never forget as I saw Barca beat Bilbao 2-0 then the return at San Mames was a crazy game as Barca continued their incredible form in the second half of the season with a 5-2 away success and then the third and final meeting was the Copa Del Rey Final which Barca won 3-1 at Camp Nou.

Now we see a repeat of the Copa Del Rey final in the Super Copa De Espana and when the Copa Del Rey winner is the La Liga Champion the runner-up of the Copa Del Rey is the one that plays in the Super Copa De Espana in case you're wondering why despite no trophies last season Bilbao are in the Super Copa De Espana.

The first meeting last September in La Liga was a tight game and Bilbao had the chances to take a result away from the game but if you don't take your chances you'll be punished and once Neymar was subbed on and changed the game it was taken away from Bilbao as Barca made sure of a home success.
Image: ESPNFC.com
The second meeting in La Liga saw an open game as Barca really continued their excellent second half of the season form and Bilbao picked a bad time to put in a poor defensive display and all round poor performance against a front three who were sizzling hot and full of confidence and Bilbao got thumped 5-2.

The third and final meeting last season between the two sides came at Camp Nou in the Copa Del Rey final where Barca were at their highest level and no team in the world could deal with them as they proved once again in Berlin to win the Champions League but Bilbao did their fans proud and put in a spirited performance but as soon as Messi beat four Bilbao defenders to slot home and fire Barca into a lead Bilbao already knew that it wasn't going to be their night with Barca and Messi in this form and mood and they eventually went on to lose 3-1.

I expect two great games in this Super Copa De Espana this season and it's going to be a fascinating event over two legs and Bilbao with Williams and Aduriz big threats going forward are likely to relish the first leg in the Basque Country.

I think the first leg is going to be a tight affair won by the finest of margins and the second leg being a little more open and I fully expect Bilbao to be very competitive over the two legs despite rotation extremely likely due to their UEFA Europa League play-off first leg just three days after the second leg of this Super Copa De Espana.

Bilbao's best chance of success in this season's Super Copa De Espana is likely to be from set-pieces and the counter-attack with Williams pace and if he can get the ball into box Aduriz can profit in the air but they must remain solid and compact whilst Barca have the ball and if they can do that then they'll give themselves a chance.

Spanish Super Cup stats and facts

  • First started in 1982 and Real Sociedad lifted the trophy beating Real Madrid over the two legs and won La Liga in the same year
  • Barcelona have won the trophy a record eleven times with Real Madrid behind on nine
  • Barcelona have been in eight of the last fifteen Super Copa De Espana's and won seven and lost one
  • Barcelona have won the Super Copa De Espana every time they've entered it via winning La Liga
  • The winner of the Super Copa De Espana has been won by the side entering via the Copa Del Rey method just ten times since the competition began in 1982.
  • Twelve of the last last fifteen Super Copa De Espana's have been won by the side entering via winning La Liga whilst the other three were won by the sides entering via the Copa Del Rey method
  • Athletic Club Bilbao lost their last Super Copa De Espana appearance and it came in 2009 against Barcelona.
  • Barcelona have won five of the last seven Super Copa De Espana's
  • Away Goals COUNT in the Super Copa De Espana
It's an ultimate tune-up for the La Liga season, but who will lift the Super Cup?

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TheSportMatrix | We Live For Sport: Previewing 2015 Spanish Super Cup
Previewing 2015 Spanish Super Cup
Spanish football returns and it returns with the Super Copa De Espana over two legs as Athletic Club Bilbao take on last season's Copa Del Rey and La Liga Champions FC Barcelona with the first leg in the Basque Country at San Mames before the second leg takes place at Camp Nou in the Catalan Capital three days later.
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TheSportMatrix | We Live For Sport
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