Aritz Aduriz came off the bench to score a stunning scissor kick as Barcelona's defence of La Liga began with a shock 1-0 loss against Athletic Bilbao on Friday.
Aduriz, who will turn 39 before the end of the season, was brought on in the 88th minute and scored in the 89th to earn the home side a deserved three points at San Mames. Barca, who were without the injured Lionel Messi and lost Luis Suarez to a calf problem in the first half, twice hit the woodwork, through Suarez and Rafinha, but will have few complaints about the defeat.
It was a tough start to the campaign for Barca and there were few real positives to be gleaned from the result. Rafinha performed well off the bench, while there were full debuts for Frenkie De Jong and Antoine Griezmann, but this was not a night that will live long in the memory for Ernesto Valverde and his players.
Messi's already injured and now Suarez is, too. The Uruguayan was forced off because of a calf problem. Carles Alena and Sergi Roberto failed to impress in midfield, and Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele disappointed in attack. Aside from naming individual players, though, the performance in general, perhaps influenced by a globe-trotting preseason, was nowhere near good enough. San Mames is always a tough place to go but this result will heap early pressure on Valverde, whom many wanted to be sacked at the end of last season.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Valverde deserves credit for trying something different -- he completely changed last season's midfield, with De Jong, Roberto and Alena all starting -- but the tactics were eerily familiar. One of the complaints from last season was that this side, even when they're winning, doesn't excite and that was the case again here, albeit against a good opponent. That buck stops with the coach.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 7 -- Made two smart saves from Inaki Williams in the first half to keep a lively Athletic side at bay. Had less to do in a more controlled second period from Barca before being beaten by Aduriz's brilliant goal.
DF Nelson Semedo, 6 -- An indiscrete performance at right-back to start a season that is supposed to see him make the position his own. Wasn't aided by the team's display.
DF Gerard Pique, 6 -- Had a tough test in the first half against the speed of Williams but improved in the second half. Will have been disappointed that he and his teammates allowed Aduriz so much space.
DF Clement Lenglet, 6 -- Like his teammates, unaware of Aduriz's position for the only goal and struggled with Williams' pace, but did come close to scoring an unlikely late equaliser. His header was saved by Unai Simon.
DF Jordi Alba, 5 -- Was one of the poster boys for the Liverpool defeat that marked last season and started the new term with another disappointing performance. Will need to up his game following the arrival of Junior Firpo, who has been signed to provide competition for the left-back.
MF Frenkie De Jong, 6 -- The best of Barca's three starting midfielders on his competitive debut for the club. However, he did not have things as easy as in preseason, with Athletic pressing him on the ball to stop him ever really getting started. Raul Garcia welcomed him to Spain with a late challenge early in the game.
MF Sergi Roberto, 5 -- Given a start in his favoured midfield position having spent the past few seasons playing predominantly as a right-back. Failed to really deliver, though, and was hooked with 15 minutes to play.
MF Carles Alena, 4 -- One of the surprise inclusions in Valverde's midfield. Struggled for the first 30 minutes but did play some nice passes toward the end of the first half for Alba. Removed at the break for Ivan Rakitic.
FW Ousmane Dembele, 5 -- Barca fans are waiting for him to explode. There have been glimpses, but he was on the fringes of the game in Bilbao.
FW Luis Suarez, 6 -- Hit the post following an Athletic error before being taken off because of a calf injury in the 36th minute. Will undergo further tests in Barcelona on Saturday to determine the extent of the problem.
FW Antoine Griezmann, 6 -- Started on the left before moving centrally when Suarez departed injured. Unable to make his mark on the match on his full debut for the club, though. Barely touched the ball in the second half but did see a late effort deflected wide and header loop just over.
FW Rafinha, 7 -- Was Barca's most creative player after replacing Suarez. A brilliant effort from long range was tipped on to the bar by Simon. Two efforts were deflected wide after the break, too, the second after a marvellous piece of skill.
MF Ivan Rakitic, 5 -- Came on at half-time but couldn't drive Barca on to three points. Blazed one good chance that came his way over the bar.
FW Carles Perez, N/R -- The young forward was brought on for Sergi Roberto late on as Valverde went on the attack.