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Barcelona miss a perfect opportunity to exorcise the ghosts

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Not good enough on the night

FBL-ESP-SUPER CUP-BARCELONA-ATHLETIC Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP via Getty Images

It’s not right to say in the wake of this latest defeat that it was ‘only’ the Spanish Super Cup.

Whilst it may be ostensibly true that of all of the trophies that can be won in a season, it is the one that gets supporters least excited, a win in Seville could’ve seen Barca exorcise some of the ghosts of the past couple of seasons.

On the night, however, it was very much an opportunity missed, particularly as we were leading going into the last minute of the game.

I’d like to be a fly on the wall in the dressing room when Jordi Alba has to explain to his team-mates why he ducked at that free-kick.

In fact, it was far from a vintage performance from the left-back.

FC Barcelona v Athletic de Bilbao - Spanish Super Cup Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

We saw the best of him when assisting Griezmann, and the worst when it came to simple defending. Unfortunately for Barca, only having Junior Firpo in reserve means that Alba is never going to be pushed to give of his best week-in and week-out, and what we saw on Sunday night from him was complacency.

It was a totally different Athletic to the one that the blaugranes tore to shreds despite the close scoreline at San Mames too.

Los Leones were dirty, physical and everything a team needs to be against Barca to knock them out of their stride.

It’s a game plan that worked perfectly.

Barca’s passing for the most part, unlike during the last few weeks, was laboured at times, sloppy at others. Defensively in particular it was as if we’d rewound a couple of months.

Associative play was often disjointed, and even when it worked well as Barca played some awesome short, sharp pass and move, it wasn’t going anywhere.

FC Barcelona v Athletic Club - Supercopa de Espana Final Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Lionel Messi didn’t look fit, shouldn’t have played 120 minutes and almost certainly will wish he hadn’t after his late, and deserved, red card. That will now carry over into La Liga games giving Ronald Koeman another headache to contend with.

Unfortunately for the Dutchman, he too was uninspired on the night.

He can’t be blamed for those late substitutions, though he’ll rue making them given that none of Trincao, Pjanic or Braithwaite had an effect on proceedings.

I’d deign to suggest that the former isn’t, and will never be a Barca player, and the sooner he can be shipped out the better.

In any event, of the trilogy of games with Los Leones, this one was probably the best to lose if we were going to give up one of them.

Back to the drawing board....