Barcelona conceded four goals in the second consecutive match to lose the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup 4–0 to Athletic Bilbao. This result will all but seal Lionel Messi’s long-rumored transfer demand for a move to Chelsea and get Luis Enrique sacked as his trophy run looks set to end at paltry four in a row.
Bilbao first took the lead in the 13th minute when Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen mistakenly thought he was countryman Manuel Neuer and came out of his area to head a clearance that went to Mikel San Jose, who launched the ball right over Ter Stegen’s head for a goal from midfield. Aritz Aduriz then added a hat trick over a span of 15 minutes in the second half to give Bilbao the commanding lead going into the second leg and destroy everything Barcelona have built before the season even truly begins.
It’s easy to say that the 120-minute UEFA Super Cup that Barca played just four days earlier left the team fatigued for this match, but the far more reasonable explanation is that they have completely forgotten how to score goals and defend and will never recover. Also, the as of yet undetected plague of mumps that Neymar has inflicted upon the entire team has surely taken its toll, as well. And it’s no coincidence that Thomas Vermaelen actually played a full 90 minutes for Barcelona after being limited to a trophy celebration background performer role last season. He is clearly more damaging to the team than mumps.
With the second leg set for Monday, Barcelona have precious little time to completely rebuild every aspect of the club and its philosophy. Finding a worthy replacement for Luis Enrique will be difficult if Carlo Ancelotti and Jurgen Klopp are both reluctant to abandon their sabbaticals early, but maybe Xavi can be called in from Qatar to fill the role on an emergency basis.
Even more difficult will be getting value for Messi, as he didn’t even score one free kick against Bilbao, let alone equal the two he scored against Sevilla earlier in the week.
It’s dark times for Barcelona. Dark times indeed.