Injury worries for Barcelona, Athletic before Super Cup 

Barcelona, Aug 13 (IANS) FC Barcelona and Athletic Club Bilbao will have to overcome injuries and tiredness when they face each other in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup football tournament on Friday.

The game pits the La Liga and Spanish Cup winners, Barcelona, against Athletic Club, with the first leg to be played in Athletic’s San Mames Stadium.

The Basque side go into the game with a series of injuries as first team regulars Iker Muniain, Ander Iturraspe, Mikel Rico and Inaki Williams are all out of action.

Barcelona meanwhile have the duel problem of injuries and tired legs to overcome given that star players Neymar, Jordi Alba and Andres Iniesta all have not been in their top shape recently.

Iniesta had to leave the field in the second half of Barcelona’s Tuesday’s European Super Cup win over Sevilla after feeling a slight muscle problem.

The game ended in a thrilling 5-4 win for Barcelona to give them their fourth title for 2015.

But the fact the game had to be resolved in extra time is probably the last thing that coach Luis Enrique needed, given that it finished in the early hours of Wednesday morning, leaving his players very little time to recover from 120 minutes of intense football and to prepare for the trip to Bilbao.

The coach may make some rotations for Friday and it will be interesting to see if striker Pedro Rodriguez, who scored Tuesday’s winning goal, will start. Pedro is poised to leave the club after getting little playing time last year.

Claudio Bravo could get a chance in goal and Enrique could make changes to the defence line, which has conceded too many goals.

Barcelona are not yet at their best, but as they showed on Tuesday, they still have star man Lionel Messi and the Argentine is usually the key factor in games like this.

The return leg is in Barcelona on Monday night.

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