Aritz Aduriz’s final season with Athletic Bilbao couldn’t have started any better. FC Barcelona dominated the contest in Antoine Griezmann’s debut with Los Blaugranas, but couldn’t break Athletic Bilbao’s heroic defensive work and towards the end, Aduriz found the back of the net to give Athletic a huge 1-0 win in front of 47,693 fans at Estadio San Mamés.
Several chances but no goals during the initial 45 minutes
One would have imagined that the first game of the season would have been a slow-paced affair for both sides. However, Athletic needed only seven minutes to test Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Inaki Williams tested the Germany international with a long-range effort, but ter Stegen did a good job to parry that attempt away. Williams had another chance in the 15th minute, but ter Stegen was magnificent once again to deny the speedy forward.
Barcelona looked lost in the early going and their first chance came in the 33rd minute when Luis Suarez smashed a rebound off the left post. To make things even more complicated, the Uruguayan star left the contest in the 37th minute due to a calf injury, and Rafinha replaced him. Suarez’s injury puts Barca in a tough position considering Lionel Messi is also out through injury.
Rafinha would have one more chance before the end of the first half, but his attempt crashed against the crossbar. The first half ended with a scoreless draw, but it was undeniable that Los Blaugranas got closer to breaking the deadlock.
Aduriz becomes the homegrown here for Athletic
Surprisingly, things were far slower after the break. Ernesto Valverde sent Ivan Rakitic into the pitch and the Croatia international had a good chance midway into the second half, but didn’t change the game as much as the manager would have expected. Bilbao, on the other hand, made several substitutions but they didn’t pan out as expected.
Rakitic created the first clear scoring chance of the second half with a shot from inside the box in the 70th minute. But it would be Griezmann who would end up being closer to break the stalemate. The French forward nodded a ball home from close range, but he inexplicably sent the ball over the crossbar.
It seemed things were headed for a stalement, but Aduriz had other plans. The veteran striker replaced Williams in the 88th minute and only needed seconds to break the deadlock with an excellent scissor kick that left ter Stegen helpless.
Barca did not have enough time to react. They started the 2019/20 Liga season with a loss that wasn’t on anyone’s cards, while Aduriz continued to cement his legend status for Bilbao with one of the finest goals we have witnessed in Europe during the calendar year.
Athletic Club: Unai Simon (7); Ander Capa (7), Yeray Álvarez (6), Unai Nuñez (6), Yuri (6); Unai Lopez (5) (Benat (-), 81’), Dani Garcia (6); De Marcos (5) (Sancet (5), 66’), Raul Garcia (5), Muniain (5); Williams (6) (Aduriz (8), 88’)
Bench: Herrerin (GK), Dani Vivian, Larrazabal, Balenziaga
FC Barcelona: ter Stegen (7); Semedo (4), Pique (5), Lenglet (5), Jordi Alba (6); Sergi Roberto (5) (Perez (-), 76’), de Jong (6), Aleña (5) (Rakitic (6), 46’); Dembele (6), Suarez (5) (Rafinha (7), 37’), Griezmann (6)
Bench: Pena (GK), Umtiti, Junior Firpo, Busquets
Goals: Aduriz (1-0, 89’)
Referee: Carlos del Cerro Grande
Yellow Cards: Unai Nunez (BIL), Pique (BAR)
Red Cards: None
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