Last month, Athletic Bilbao was in Boise for a friendly on the green grass of Albertsons Stadium.
On Monday, Athletic claimed the Spanish Super Cup by beating reigning European champion Barcelona 5-1 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw in Barcelona, Spain.
Athletic’s victory in the annual meeting of the defending La Liga and Copa del Rey champions — Barcelona won both, so Athletic entered as the Copa runner-up — is the Basque team’s first title since the 1984 Copa del Rey. It beat Barcelona 1-0 then to complete its own league and domestic cup double.
“We have been waiting for this for a long time. Generations of players have passed through Athletic since those league and cup titles of the 1980s. We knew it would arrive eventually,” coach Ernesto Valverde said. “There will be no better place than Bilbao for a party tonight.”
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After Bilbao’s 4-0 home victory in Friday’s first leg, Barcelona threatened a comeback when Lionel Messi put the hosts ahead a minute before halftime. But after a red card on Barcelona’s Gerard Pique, Aritz Aduriz netted the equalizer in the 74th, adding to his hat trick from Friday.
“The happiest day of my life was the birth of my daughter,” Aduriz said, “but apart from that, today is the happiest day.”
The result means Barcelona can’t match the six titles it won in a single calendar year under Pep Guardiola in 2009. Barcelona won the UEFA Super Cup after completing a rare treble of the Champions League, Spanish League and Copa del Rey last season, and it will play in the Club World Cup in December.
Monday also marked the second of three meetings in 10 days between the sides. They open La Liga play against each other Sunday in Bilbao.