Mission impossible. That was the task ahead of Barcelona after collapsing to a 4-0 defeat in the first leg. In his presser beforehand, Luis Enrique spoke of his belief in the team and the players demonstrated via their various social media platforms that they shared that sentiment.
Athletic kicked the game off and Barça started at full tilt, racing out of the blocks with the team probing at the Basque defence. But the team in red and white stood firm. A well organised defence caused Barcelona to be flagged for offside four times in the opening 17 minutes and restricted clear cut Barça chances to a minimum.
The man who came closest though was Gerard Piqué. Adopting that unconventional centre-forward role (which is conventional in Pique's playbook) and he found himself facing goal as the ball was fizzed into him. The ball arrived on the half volley and the roaming centre back cannoned the ball onto the Bilbao bar.
Suárez was becoming increasingly aggravated at the offside calls whilst his strike partner Lionel Messi was finding his involvement limited due to the three or four defenders assigned to close him down whenever the ball reached his feet. However is was the Argentine that eventually registered Barça's first goal in the tie.
Ivan Rakitić found himself with time to the right of the penalty area and chipped a ball in the direction of Suárez. Whilst seemingly having one eye on the ball, Suárez noticed the run of Messi infant of him and chest cushioned the ball into the path of the Argentine. Messi controlled and Messi finished.
The temperature was ramped up that little bit further when Gorka Iraizoz prevented Barça from getting the ball back to the centre spot by lying on top of the ball. The surrounding Barcelona players were a little too rough for the referee's liking and Pedro walked away with a yellow and a noisy Camp Nou crowd behind him.
The half time whistle blew with tempers flaring and Barcelona came out for the second half of the game with the same intensity as the first. Bilbao's legs were tiring which meant they were dropping deeper into their own half.
Barça crept forward into that area, seemingly unable to convert any of their chances into goalscoring opportunities. The Basques were allowing the Catalans space out on the wings but often the final ball would let down the home team.
Then the pendulum of the tie swag further in Atheltic's favour. Gerard Piqué, unhappy about an offside call, darted over to the linesmen before towering over him. A 6ft 2 figure with daggers in his eyes was deemed to much aggression by the referee and the Barça defender was shown a straight red. The dismissal was a hammer-blow for Barça as Piqué had been one of the team's better players.
The match reached boiling point. Mascherano left a cheeky arm in Aduriz, whilst the Athletic striker came face to face with Claudio Bravo. Barcelona continued to struggle for chances and with fifteen minutes left to go, Athletic put the tie firmly beyond the reach of Barcelona.
A long punt forward was met by De Marcos as head the ball into the open path of Aduriz. After seeing his initial shot saved before the 34 year old slid the ball into the open net and scored his fourth goal of the tie.
A late red card for Kike Sola was too little, too late for Barça and the final whistle blew with Athletic taking the trophy with an aggregate score of 5-1. It was a step too far for Barça which was only made that little bit harder with Pique's red card. Time to move on and make sure this doesn't happen again for the La Liga opener.
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