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Athletic Bilbao v Barcelona: Barca stay on the trophy hunt with Supercopa

Having wrapped up their fourth trophy of 2015 on Tuesday, Barcelona can move towards securing another in the Supercopa de Espana final against Athletic Bilbao with Pedro’s future still up in the air.

Luis Enrique’s side added to their treble achievement of last season with a 5-4 UEFA Super Cup victory over Sevilla in extra time as wantaway forward Pedro scored the winner after coming off the bench in Tbilisi.

Barca’s sporting director Robert Fernandez confirmed prior to the final that the reported Manchester United target “wants to leave” Camp Nou, while a frustrated Pedro sought to clarify that his motives were not financial.

The forward’s absence from the starting XI – amid Neymar’s mumps-enforced withdrawal – was put down to a hamstring problem.

However, all eyes will be on Luis Enrique’s selection for Friday’s first leg as Barca seek to move closer to completing a sextuple, with the Club World Cup also still to come.

Asked about achieving such a feat, Tuesday’s two-goal star Lionel Messi said: “We need to go step by step. We must first think about Bilbao and then start La Liga.

“We started very well and we took a significant [4-1] lead but then we relaxed and a game that we had practically won became more difficult. 

“We did everything to see the game out but we relaxed and ended up suffering in a game that we had all-but won. 

“The important thing was start by winning this Super Cup to start the season well, now we have another important title to go for against Athletic. We put in a lot and we gave it importance.”

Barca’s domestic and Copa del Rey success last term means Bilbao feature in the Supercopa for the first time since 2009.

Luis Enrique’s side won the Copa with relative ease in May courtesy of a 3-1 success at Camp Nou, with new contracts for Aymeric Laporte and Iker Muniain the highlights of their close-season.

With just over two weeks until the sides meet for their domestic opener at San Mames, Bilbao midfielder Oscar de Marcos said: “In pre-season usually it’s tough to get into a rhythm, but both Barca and Sevilla showed an unbelievable intensity.

“They’re used to it, I do not think they will be tired. They will come to dominate and fight for possession.

“When you play your first game at home it is very important to keep a clean sheet but against Barca that is very complicated.”

Barca are likely to be without Jordi Alba (hamstring) and Neymar (mumps) while Muniain will miss out following surgery on a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in May.

Wed 12 Aug, 2015
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