Lionel Messi is facing a minimum four-game ban for violent conduct in the wake of Barcelona’s Spanish Super Cup defeat to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday
Lionel Messi is facing a minimum four-game ban for violent conduct in the wake of Barcelona’s Spanish Super Cup defeat to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday. And Ronald Koeman has suggested he’s furious with referee Jesus Gil Manzano in the aftermath of the match in Seville. The Catalan giants saw their hopes of a first trophy under the Dutchman ended on a frustrating night.
Messi and Barcelona went into the match looking to end their wait for silverware.
But that didn’t happen, with their La Liga rivals coming from behind to claim the trophy.
Barcelona took the lead in the 40th minute through Antoine Griezmann, with Oscar de Marcos then equalising.
Griezmann struck again for the Catalan titans but goals from Asier Villalibre and Inaki Williams then rocked them, with Koeman’s side unable to recover.
Late on, in the 121st minute of the contest, Messi was dismissed.
The 33-year-old struck Villalibre off the ball, with Manzano then checking the pitch side monitor before producing a red card.
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Koeman has insisted Barcelona’s defeat wasn’t a step backwards for his side, saying: “A title is convenient to show that you’re on the right path, but we’ve still showed that we are.
“We’ve done everything to win, but we were very tired. For many players it will prove a good experience to have played in this final.
“Athletic were strong in the air and intelligent in earning fouls to set-up free-kicks.
“It’s a quality they have, how they win the fouls and the players they have.
“We don’t have tall players, and for their second goal we didn’t adjust our defensive line properly and he took his goal well.”
Meanwhile, for Bilbao, it was a first trophy since they beat Barca to win the Spanish Supercopa in 2015.
And new manager Marcelino was delighted in the aftermath of the game, saying: “The credit goes to the players.
“They deserved to be here for what they did last season and to win these two games [against Madrid and Barca] is incredible.
“I’d also like to remember Aritz Aduriz and Mikel San Jose and the other players that were here last season but are no longer part of the squad.
“And, also, the previous coach [Gaizka Garitano] and his staff.”
For Barcelona, the defeat sees their season stoop to a new low.
Having nearly lost Messi during the summer transfer window, they’ve been under pressure to return to their usual swashbuckling selves.
But the defeat against Bilbao has now pegged them back.
They’re unlikely to win the La Liga title, currently sitting seven points behind league leaders Atletico Madrid having played two matches more.
And winning the Champions League will be tricky, too, with that trophy evading them since 2015 back when Luis Enrique was manager.