Barca itching to put Bilbao record straight after Super Cup thrashing
ATH BILBAO v BARCELONA (Tomorrow, 12.30am)
Barcelona know they cannot rest on the laurels of last season's treblewinning campaign when they launch their Primera Division title defence at Athletic Bilbao.
Athletic humbled Barca with a 5-1 aggregate victory in the Spanish Super Cup this month to
dash the Catalans' hopes of capturing a fifth title in 2015.
Spanish defender Marc Bartra started in last week's 4-0 defeat at Athletic in the first leg and is eager to make amends.
''We are the defending champions and we have to defend the title like never before,'' said Bartra. ''Learning from mistakes is what makes you grow and we are determined to avenge last week's result.
''Athletic are a tough team and the best we can do is come back, play good football, and get the three points.
''We need to press the reset button and go out for a win.''
Repeating last season's success will be difficult, considering Barca will have to cope without their summer signings Aleix Vidal and Arda Turan, who cannot play until January when the club's Fifa transfer ban expires.
Barca won the Primera Division, Copa del Rey and Champions League titles under first-year coach Luis Enrique.
They added a fourth trophy this month when they beat Sevilla 5-4 in extra-time to win the Uefa Super Cup, with Spanish forward Pedro Rodriguez, who joined Chelsea this week, scoring the winner.
Despite Pedro's departure, Barca will have no shortage of goals, with their formidable attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar scoring a combined 122 goals in all competitions for the club last season.
However, Neymar will sit out tomorrow's match after being diagnosed with mumps.
With Gerard Pique serving his first of a four-match ban, after being sent off in a 1-1 draw against Athletic for dissent, and Jeremy Mathieu also suspended, Bartra is expected to play alongside JavierMascherano in Barca's defence. Both players will have their work cut out to limit Athletic forward Aritz Aduriz, who scored four of Athletic's five goals in the Spanish Super Cup.
''Aduriz is a striker who's scored a lot of goals and he really knows how to move,'' said Bartra. ''He's pretty clever and we have to be at a high level. We have to avoid making mistakes.'' Aduriz was rested for the 3-2 defeat at Zilina in the first leg of their Europa League play-off tie. The Basque team host the Slovakian outfit next week with a place in the Europa League group stages up for grabs.
''We are disappointed with the result as it's unfair considering what we did on the pitch,'' said Athletic coach Ernesto Valverde.
- Deportivo La Coruna v Real Sociedad
- Espanyol v Getafe
- Atletico Madrid v Las Palmas
- Rayo Vallecano v Valencia
- Athletic Bilbao v Barcelona (12.30am)
- Sporting Gijon v Real Madrid (2.30am)
- Levante v Celta Vigo (4am)
- Real Betis v Villarreal (4.30am)
- Granada v Eibar (2.30am)