Much can be taken from FC Barcelona's humiliation at the hands of Athletic Bilbao, which cost them the Spanish Super Copa. The aggregate loss meant the dreams of winning all six trophies available to the Catalans over the calendar year were also dashed.
Despite coming off an incredibly successful, treble winning season, the Blaugrana were humbled over the course of two legs by the team from the Basque country. An embarrassing 4-0 loss during the first leg meant Barca would have to pull a historical comeback on Monday in order to keep their dreams alive.
Much to the disappointment of fans worldwide, the outcome was not what they had hoped, and Athletic lifted the Super Copa at the Camp Nou.
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The loss highlighted many problems that still exist at Barcelona which need to be addressed in order for coach Luis Enrique and the team to defend their titles.
Barca's preseason was undoubtedly poor, throughout the International Champions Cup, and both Super Cups (European and Spanish) the Catalans were not convincing whatsoever. Yes, many of their first-team stars were absent for those matches, but that just exposes another issue for Barcelona; depth.
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In the shallows
With the sale of Spanish winger Pedro, Barcelona may be facing serious squad depth issues this season should any injuries occur. They were lucky enough to have their main stars fully fit for the majority of last season, which surely helped in their treble haul.
However, Barca lack a world-class, super-sub that can make a difference off the bench should the Catalonians need it. While Rafinha is showing promise, he is still not capable of being a game changer, especially in big European matches.
While the starting XI may be one of the best ever, Barca's bench (besides the goalkeepers) do not have any world class players to replace those on the field.
Although the team should win and lose as a whole, accumulation of individual errors cannot be ignored. Young German keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen may be one of the most promising young goalkeepers in world football, but in recent games for Barcelona he's made many errors that resulted in costly goals, most notably the final goal in the first leg of the Super Copa game against Athletic, after a poor clearance.
French international Jeremy Mathieu has also been caught out plenty throughout the course of this pre-season, which has also raised many eyebrows. The defender has been caught too high up the pitch several times, as well as just making small, silly yet very costly mistakes, such as when clearing the ball. The former Valencia man seems less focused and its costing Barca greatly.
Taking the blame
The absence of Neymar and Jordi Alba has made a significant impact on Barcelona. Despite the last-minute tap in by Pedro to win Barca the UEFA Super Cup, no other player was able to replace the Brazilian starlet at left-wing. Meanwhile, Mathieu was not been convincing at all when covering for Jordi Alba during his absence.
The first-leg loss to Bilbao emphasised the need for Barca to remain focused, motivated and most of all, non-complacent.
Manager Enrique has accepted the blame for this since he had released a weaker line-up, resting many of Barca's key players. Those who started also seemed to take to the pitch as though the trophy was already in their hands.
Complacency is often the reason teams coming off hugely successful campaigns fail to defend their crown, and if Barca's preseason is anything to go by, this seems to be the path they are currently going down. The Catalans must make sure they remain motivated to win every trophy and every game, in order to retain their titles this upcoming season.
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