MX23RW : Monday, February 18 07:02:10
Aug 14, 2015 at 9pm UK at ​San Mames
Athletic Bilbao
4-0
Barcelona
San Jose (13'), Aduriz (53', 62', 68' pen.)
FT(HT: 1-0)

Preview: Athletic Bilbao vs. Barcelona

Sports Mole previews the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup between Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona, which takes place at San Mames on Friday.

The first leg of the Spanish Super Cup takes place on Friday evening as Athletic Bilbao welcome Barcelona to San Mames.

This will be the first of three fixtures between the two teams in the space of nine days, with their second leg on Monday followed by a meeting on the first weekend of the La Liga season.


Bilbao

Athletic Bilbao's forward Aritz Aduriz celebrates a goal during the Spanish league football match Athletic Club Bilbao vs Sevilla FC at the San Mames stadium in Bilbao on November 2, 2014© Getty Images

Bilbao struggled to balance European football with their domestic duties in the first half of last season, but a strong end to the campaign saw them claim seventh position in La Liga and advance to the final of the Copa del Rey, where they were beaten 3-1 by Barcelona.

Due to Barca's treble success, Bilbao's appearance in the final of the cup secured their spot in the Spanish Super Cup – a competition that they have won just once, in 1984. This particular match-up also occurred in exactly the same circumstances back in 2009 and it was Barca that claimed the trophy with a 5-1 aggregate score.

Bilbao have been busy since the end of last season – playing six pre-season friendlies and also competing in the third qualifying round of the Europa League. Their preparations for the new campaign have brought mixed results, but they did book their spot in the Europa League playoffs with a 2-0 aggregate victory over Azerbaijani side Inter Baku.

It has not exactly been the most enthralling of transfer windows for the club's supporters, but thus far, they have managed to fight off interest in a number of their key players. Aymeric Laporte is believed to be a long-standing target for a number of clubs, but looks certain to start the new season in the red and white of Bilbao.

As mentioned, Bilbao are preparing to face Barcelona three times in the next nine days. On Monday, they will travel to the Camp Nou for the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup, before welcoming the Spanish champions to San Mames for their league opener next weekend.

There is no question that the Basque outfit will enter as the underdogs, but having watched Barcelona exert a lot of energy in the European Super Cup earlier this week, they could cause a surprise in front of their own supporters.

Recent form: DDWLD


Barcelona

Lionel Messi of Barcelona is congratulated on scoring their first goal with Dani Alves of Barcelona during the UEFA Super Cup between Barcelona and Sevilla FC at Dinamo Arena on August 11, 2015© Getty Images

As touched upon above, Barcelona will enter this match as the newly-crowned winners of the European Super Cup. A quite incredible game on Tuesday evening saw Luis Enrique's side beat Sevilla 5-4, with the winner coming from Pedro in the 115th minute.

Barca actually led 4-1 early in the second period, but somehow allowed Sevilla back into the match. Playing 120 minutes is not what Enrique would have had in mind ahead of this match and there is no question that he now has issues over team selection with a busy few weeks ahead.

The Catalan outfit have played six games since the end of last season – beating Los Angeles Galaxy in their pre-season opener, before losing to Manchester United, Chelsea and Fiorentina. They did claim the Joan Gamper Trophy with a 3-0 win over Roma, however, before making it back-to-back victories by overcoming Sevilla last time out.

It will not come as much of a surprise that Barcelona are the most successful team in the history of the Spanish Super Cup, having won the trophy on 11 occasions and also finished as runners-up eight times. The last time that they won the competition was in 2013, when they beat Atletico Madrid on away goals.

Six trophies are on offer for Barca this season and having already claimed the European Super Cup, they now have a chance to secure another title before the La Liga season has even begun.

A difficult start to the season sees them travel to Atletico Madrid in their second match, before hosting Malaga, who beat them at Camp Nou last season and were indeed the last team to stop the Catalan outfit from scoring. It will certainly be interesting to see just how much the Sevilla match took out of the players and whether Enrique is forced to make sweeping changes.

Recent form: LLLWW


Team News

Pedro of Barcelona celebrates scoring their fifth goal past Beto of Sevilla in extra time during the UEFA Super Cup between Barcelona and Sevilla FC at Dinamo Arena on August 11, 2015© Getty Images

Bilbao boss Ernesto Valverde has a host of injury concerns ahead of the match, with Mikel Rico and Ander Iturraspe both expected to miss out on starting spots.

The match could also have come too soon for fit-again Inaki Williams, while long-term absentee Iker Muniain is also a big miss for the Basque club.

Kike Sola, however, has recently returned from a knock and could partner Aritz Aduriz in attack.

As for Barcelona, Enrique's team selection will largely depend on how his players have recovered.

Andres Iniesta limped out of the Sevilla match with an Achilles problem and remains a doubt, while neither Jordi Alba nor Neymar are available.

Pedro's future at Camp Nou is far from certain, but if the Spaniard is still a Barcelona player on Friday then he could be drafted into the XI alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. Munir El-Haddadi, however, is also pushing for a start.

Bilbao possible starting lineup:
Iraizoz; Balenziaga, Laporte, Etxeita, Elustondo; Benat, San Jose; Eraso, Sola, De Marcos; Aduriz

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Vermaelen; Busquets, Rakitic, Rafinha; Munir, Messi, Suarez


Head To Head

In total, these two teams have met on 51 occasions since their first match in the 1993-94 season. Barcelona have won 33 of those fixtures, with Bilbao winning seven and the further 11 games finishing level.

Last season, Barca beat Bilbao twice in the league, in addition to triumphing in the Copa del Rey final. However, Bilbao did beat the Catalan side 1-0 during their league meeting at San Mames in the 2013-14 campaign.

As mentioned, these two teams also met in the Spanish Super Cup in 2009, when Barca claimed the trophy with an aggregate score of 5-1. They also clashed in this competition back in 1983, with Bilbao, who had won La Liga the previous season, losing 3-2 on aggregate.


Sports Mole Logo

We say: Bilbao 1-1 Barcelona

This is going to be a very tough match for Barcelona, especially when taking into account the energy that they would have expended against Sevilla.

Bilbao are strong on their own patch and have shown that they can match the best teams in Europe on top form. We think that it will be a tight fixture, with both teams sharing the spoils in a 1-1 draw.

In truth, both would probably take that result if offered at the start of play.


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What result will Friday's Spanish Super Cup first leg bring?

Bilbao win
Draw
Barcelona win
Bilbao win
14.1%
Draw
12.8%
Barcelona win
73.1%
Athletic Bilbao's midfielder Mikel Rico vies with Malaga's defender Sergio Sanchez during the Spanish league football match Malaga CF vs Athletic Club Bilbao at the Rosaleda stadium in Malaga on November 25, 2013
Read Next:
Report: Rico, Iturraspe to miss Spanish Super Cup
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