Supercup belongs to Barça
Brilliant Barcelona added another piece of silverware to their bulging trophy cabinet after clinching the Spanish Supercup following a one-sided second leg against Athletic Bilbao at the Nou Camp. Barça never looked in trouble despite a goalless opening period and a second-half brace from Lionel Messi plus another from Bojan Krkic earned Pep Guardiola's a 5-1 aggregate win following last weekend's 2-1 success at San Mames.
The victory adds the Supercup to the Primera Division, Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League titles Barça won last season, and the Catalan giants could get another crown on Friday when they play Shakhtar Donetsk in the European Supercup. Guardiola, having opted to use a mixture of youth and experience for Wednesday's Joan Gamper Trophy defeat to Manchester City here, selected arguably his strongest available line-up for this match, with only the injured Andres Iniesta missing.
Summer signings Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Maxwell were both included, with the Swede making his first start for the club, having appeared as a second-half substitute in the friendly against City. However, while Barça were boasting most of their big guns, it was actually Athletic who fashioned the first effort of note in the 21st minute when Pablo Orbaiz's long-range free-kick was pushed over the bar by Victor Valdes.
Nothing came of that corner though, and for the rest of the first half - and, indeed, for most of the second as well - Athletic were forced to withstand a Barça onslaught. At times, the visitors' goal seemed to lead a charmed life and Athletic goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz was the busiest man on the pitch as he made vital saves to deny Messi, Gerard Pique and Ibrahimovic, while Thierry Henry and Xavi both failed to hit the target from close range.
Iraizoz produced his best stop six minutes before the break to deny Ibrahimovic a memorable first goal for Barça, after the €66m man had chested down Messi's cross and sent an acrobatic volley flying towards the top corner. Barça did not exactly help themselves either though, with Seydou Keita mis-kicking with the net at his mercy before the Mali international then had a goal-bound effort inadvertently blocked on the line by his team-mate Yaya Toure.
Athletic had ridden their luck to stay on level terms with Barça before the break, but that fortune ran out just four minutes after the re-start when a piece of Messi magic put the hosts ahead. The Argentinian superstar still had work to do after picking up an Ibrahimovic lay-off, but he made it look ridiculously easy as he skipped past Ustaritz Aldekoaotalora before coolly dinking the ball over Iraizoz.
Athletic, who are in the midst of a Europa League qualifying round tie against Tromso, were finding it virtually impossible to get out of their own half and they had more let-offs as Xavi's shot was deflected wide and Carles Puyol headed against the crossbar. It seemed only a matter of time before Barça increased their advantage, and that proved to be the case when Messi made it 2-0 from the penalty spot after Dani Alves had gone down in the box. That was in the 67th minute and 2-0 become 3-0 just four minutes later as Barça finally got the rewards their overwhelming dominance deserved.
Bojan, who had only been on the pitch for two minutes after replacing Ibrahimovic, was the goalscorer as he capitalised on a dismal back-pass by Ander Iturraspe before skipping past Iraizoz and walking the ball into an empty net. That proved to be the final goal of the game as Barça took their foot off the pedal in the closing stages with the damage already done.