Barcelona started the new season as they finished last: with a very bad performance. The Blaugrana lost 1-0 to Athletic Bilbao in the opening match of the La Liga season thanks to a spectacular bicycle kick winner by Aritz Aduriz. The Blaugrana played poorly from start to finish and Athletic stayed solid throughout, relying on a moment of brilliance from their legendary striker to win the first game of the campaign.
Athletic were always going to bring the intensity and make a fast start at home, and that’s what they did: the hosts pressed high, wanted possession and created two big chances through main man Iñaki Williams, but Ter Stegen stopped him both times with a couple of really good saves.
Barça survived the early storm and were supposed to take control, and although they did have possession they just could not make any combinations or play five or six passes in a row, and the first half was filled with bad touches, passes and a general rush to get things done that stopped the team from playing well.
The visitors only had two highlights in the period: first Luis Suárez hit the post before immediately going off injured, and his substitute Rafinha fired a rocket from outside the box that hit the crossbar thanks to a slight but brilliant save by Unai Simón.
At halftime, a very disappointing performance from Barça resulted in a 0-0 score. Hopefully things would get better in the second half.
To be fair Barça improved a little bit in the second half, with higher pressing, more accurate passing and Ivan Rakitic playing well as a substitute, but Barça continued to play well below par and showed very little creativity against an Athletic side more than happy to park the buss and settle for the 0-0 draw against the champions.
The best player in the second half was Rafinha, who was involved in every good thing about the Barça attack and created the most dangerous chances for the Blaugrana. The rest of the attack went missing, especially Griezmann, who was satisfied with staying between the center-backs and not being an option inside the box.
In the final 10 minutes Athletic’s defense started to get tired and spaces slowly started to appear, with the visitors trying to create one big chance and get the late winner. But apart from a weak Griezmann header the opportunity never came, and Barça’s season went from bad to worse thanks to Aritz Aduriz: the legendary Athletic striker come on in the 87th minute and scored the winner with his first touch of the game, which was a bicycle kick.
It’s a fitting end to a very bad opening night for Barça, who have a lot of work to do ahead of next week’s home debut against Real Betis.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Roberto (Pérez 76’), De Jong, Aleñá (Rakitic 45’); Dembélé, Suárez (Rafinha 37’), Griezmann
Athletic: Simón; Capa, Yeray, Núñez, Yuri; Unai (Beñat 81’), D. García; De Marcos (Sancet 66’), R. García, Muniain; Williams (Aduriz 87’)
Goal: Aduriz (89’)