The presence of Piqué and Griezmann, and the absence of a Dembélé that had been missing in the Classic, marked Koeman’s starting eleven against Athletic that came out with the foreseeable starting team once Muniain had recovered, who was doubtful until the end.
And from the first moment it was seen that this was not going to be the game that both teams played on this stage in January. If then Athletic pressed later and drowned Barça, which barely arrived. This time Barça had a monopoly on the ball, the first minutes were a continuous round, Athletic was locked in their area and at minute four Koeman’s team had already enjoyed their first big chance. It was a masterful pass from Busquets to Messi, which the Argentine put back so that De Jong could finish at pleasure. Fortunately for Athletic, the ball hit the post. At ten he had achieved two other clear arrivals. The last saved by the defense when Messi sang the goal …
However, the first time Athletic passed from the center of the field, he almost scored. It was a long free kick that they put in the heart of the area and Iñigo Martínez arrived very forced and his touch passed very close to Ter Stegen’s post. That seemed to wake up Athletic, which although it continued to give the ball to its rival, it did try to press a few meters later.
The intention did not last long, because with two threats, Barça put them back in the cave. With Dest and Alba installed next to the rival area and Athletic very withdrawn to cover all the options of their rival, Barça tried to enter through the center, while Athletic shortened the balls as best they could.
The Blaugrana pressure was suffocating, sometimes excessive and that also wore down a Barça that held that pace for twenty minutes. Athletic began to breathe, to have a little more the ball and to be seen, although without danger, on the rival field.
Despite this, Barça had not said their last word. Without besieging as in the start, he continued to reach the edge of the Bilbao area very easily. With Messi surprising from the second row. A wall with Minguez (28 ‘) almost ended in a goal. His shot ended up hitting a defender.
From there they entered a phase that did not happen at all, in which Barça had the ball but it did not give them the speed of the beginning and Marcelino’s did not suffer. Fortunately for Athletic, Messi was still as imprecise in the shot as in the Classical and the first foul he had (40 ‘) in the place he likes crashed again into the barrier. It was the last thing that a first half conceded that had started at a frenetic pace and had turned off as the minutes passed.
Marcelino moved a piece to reinforce his left wing giving Lekue entry for a missing Muniain, but it was precisely there that Barça had his best chance of the match. It was a play by the omnipresent Messi, who surpassed lines for speed, put it in depth to Dest and he yielded so that Griezmann only had to finish at pleasure at the near post. Unai Simón took out a prodigious foot and avoided the impossible, the Barça goal.
The Blaugrana team had come out as in the first half, pressing on Athletic and, although the people of Bilbao tried not to lock themselves so far behind, they soon ended up cornered and with their rival in full avalanche. If Griezmann warned, Pedri brushed the goal (52 ‘) with a shot from the edge and, in the continuation of the play, at the exit of a corner, Busquets (53’) is still wondering how they could get the ball from him. The Sabadell midfielder found a ball bounced in the small area, he threw at pleasure and the Spanish international goal stopped with a changed leg.
Marcelino got desperate and went back to make another defensive change. He took out Vesga to stop the Blaugrana game in midfield and removed Berenguer, his top scorer this season. But what was found was the Blaugrana goal. And it was not as a consequence of the siege of the culé but of a robbery in one of the few Basque offensives.
As on the previous occasion, Barça found Dest on the right wing, the American put her in the center and Griezmann was there to push her. The ‘magician’ Unai couldn’t save her this time.
The blow was hard, but even more so the one that came three minutes later, with another quick arrival on the other side, another center and a shot from De Jong even closer to Bilbao’s goal. In just four minutes the final seemed over.
And he was, because although Marcelino played it with a triple change, Messi, with a personal move after a pass from De Jong, was in charge of closing the final at 68 minutes. The Argentine made a cut of the house brand and, with total tranquility, put it on the long stick. Unai Simón could only look at her.
Barça, with Athletic sunk, had no mercy and continued to delve into the wound. He didn’t even wait. Four minutes later he made the fourth in the umpteenth Alba-Messi connection. The Argentine scored his second goal and showed why he is Athletic’s nightmare in the finals.
With everything decided and Athletic bent on, at least, scoring the honor goal, Barça relaxed. Koeman began to move his bench to give rest to some of the starters and allow men like Sergi Roberto, Araujo or the young Moriba to have minutes in the final.
So we follow the minute by minute of the game
Athletic Club: Unai Simon; De Marcos, Yeray (Unai Núñez 67 ‘), Iñigo Martínez, Balenziaga; Berenguer (Vesga 54 ‘), Unai López (Yuri 67’), Dani García, Muniain (Lekue 46 ‘); Raúl García and Williams (Villalibre 67 ‘).
FC Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Dest (Sergi Roberto 73 ‘), Mingueza, Piqué, Lenglet, Jordi Alba; De Jong, Busquets, Pedri; Messi and Griezmann.
Goals: 0-1 (59′) Griezmann; 0-2 (62 ‘) De Jong; 0-3 (68′) Messi; 0-4 (72′) Messi
Referee: Martínez Munuera (Valencian). He admonished Dani García.