It was a disappointing night for Barcelona, who were unable to pull off a miracle and come back against Athletic Bilbao, as Los Leones won the Spanish Supercup with a 5-1 aggregate result. Here's a few takeaways from Monday's 1-1 draw and what we can learn from a tough result:
1. 'M' and 'S' can't work without 'N'. Messi, Suárez and Neymar have played so well together that they almost depend on being on the field at the same time on every game to have a great performance. The only match this season when the three were together, the friendly against Roma, was a 60-minute masterpiece by the whole team, and 'MSN' feed off each other so well that they can trounce any defense.
Against Athletic, on both legs, Messi and Suárez did not play well together, and they missed Neymar's dribbling to break down Bilbao's lines and create chances for them. Also, Messi and Suárez still don't understand each other as well as Leo and Ney, but that's just because those two have been playing together for two and a half years, and Suárez has joined just 10 months ago. With one more season, the trio might finally be able to play well when it's only a duo, but right now, all three need each other.
2. Ter Stegen better work hard, because Bravo is just better. Claudio Bravo had not played competitive football since the start of July, and he was thrown in the fire, with the responsibility of making a shaky defense better. And boy, did he do that to perfection. Obviously, the center-backs just played better on Monday than in the other games, but with Bravo on goal, things just looked so much safer. It is clear that the young German keeper just has the highest ceiling, but it's also clear that Bravo is more mature and knows who he is and what he has to do. I'm sure Stegen will remain as the goalkeeper in Cup games, but he has to work harder to prove he is an undeniable starter this season.
3. We have a renewed rivalry. Barça and Bilbao were bitter rivals in the 70s and 80s, when the Basque side was one of the Spanish giants. As time went on and the Catalans became richer and more powerful, the distance between the two clubs just became too big to make the games competitive. However, the number of games these teams have played over the last few months, and the way that Los Leones won this Supercup, make next Sunday's La Liga clash between these two a must-watch match. These two are rivals again, and this is awesome.