As Athletic Club rightly celebrate a terrific trophy triumph after beating Barcelona in this weekend's Spanish Super Cup final, the Blaugrana are left to deal with another setback. Winning the Super Cup would have been a soothing tonic they badly needed right now. The recent postponement of the presidential elections at the Camp Nou is not good news at all for the club: the delay merely serves to prolong this period of limbo and extend the wait for solutions; indeed, it has scuppered the mooted signing of Manchester City’s Eric García for 5m euros plus 5m in add-ons. No agreement could be reached in the meeting in which the presidential candidates were informed of the postponement. That’s a shame.
Spanish Super Cup win would have helped Koeman calm Barcelona atmosphere
The Super Cup, which was previously a minor trophy but since its change in format has grown in status (just look at the consequences of Barça’s semi-final defeat to Atlético Madrid last year), would have helped Ronald Koeman to calm the atmosphere in and around the club and galvanise the squad. But the trophy went to Bilbao, deservedly won by a more motivated team whose coach, Marcelino, has the kind of infectious enthusiasm ("the boys are really pumped up," he said pre-match) that is in stark contrast to Koeman’s circumspection. Antoine Griezmann’s claim of a lack of organisation when Barça defend set pieces doesn’t do the Dutchman any favours, either. Salt in the wound.
Messi clearly shouldn't have started for Barcelona
And then there’s Lionel Messi. Why was he picked? Because he wanted to be, clearly. I remembered one of the last games at the Calderón, when his son had just been born and he travelled to Madrid short on sleep. He didn’t start, but when he came on with half an hour to go, everything changed. A shiver went down the spine of every atlético, in the stands and on the pitch, and Barça won with a goal by the Argentine. I thought he could reprise this role on Sunday, but instead he started and his effect on the team was like that of a broken gear box on a car. His frustration boiled over first with a whack on Dani García, which has been glossed over, and then with a swing at Asier Villalibre that leaves him in a very poor light.