The new La Liga season got underway on Friday night, as Athletic Club welcomed reigning champions Barcelona to the Estadio San Mames. And, erm, Aritz Aduriz happened.
Ernesto Valverde handed debuts to new signings Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong, who joined from Atletico Madrid and Ajax respectively. Griezmann returned to the Basque country after playing for Athletic’s rivals Real Sociedad way back in his career, while de Jong was making his La Liga debut.
Athletic got off to the better start, with Iñaki Williams having two big chances for the hosts. However, he was denied by Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who pulled off two decent saves in the early stages of the game to keep the game goalless.
Iñaki Williams looking really, really dangerous so far. If he can find himself on the scoresheet today in a win or draw against Barca at home immediately after signing that huge 9-year extension, that would be truly poetic.
— Colchoneros (@ElResurreccion) August 16, 2019
And another big save from ter Stegen! Iñaki Williams is the threat once again, getting in behind our high line. Piqué can’t catch him. ter Stegen stands him up until the last moment.
— TalkFCB (@FCBNewsRoom) August 16, 2019
Marc André ter Stegen 2-0 Iñaki Williams.
— Invictos (@InvictosSomos) August 16, 2019
The game then went a bit quiet, until a shocking back pass put an unmarked Luis Suarez through on goal. With a split second to react as the ball perfectly fell to him, the Uruguayan hit the post, sparing Athletic’s blushes before he went off injured.
Luis Suarez hits the post clean through and is immediately subbed with a humiliation-related issue (alright, and a leg injury)
— Chris Deeley (@ThatChris1209) August 16, 2019
It remained a quiet affair, with Williams the standout player for Athletic. The Spanish forward was working hard all game long, and his statistics showed just how impressive his work rate was.
In the World Cups (2010, 2014 and 2018) players averaged 9.13km of distance covered per 90 minutes.@Arthuresque_ just informed me that by 42 minutes Iñaki Williams had covered 9.5km of distance covered.
That is absolutely sensational. pic.twitter.com/Y7vefHepMV
— UtdArena. (@utdarena) August 16, 2019
Inaki ran 9.5km in one half?????
— All Derby Aren’t We (@9UBALA) August 16, 2019
Finally, the deadlock was broken right at the death with just a minute to play. Aritz Aduriz came off the bench and executed a stunning scissor kick, as he sent the Athletic fans into bedlam and secured a late and famous win for the hosts.
OHHHHHHHHHH QUE UN GOL QUE UN GOAL ARITZA ADURIZ QUE BONITOOOOOO
— Nischal (@NischalCFC) August 16, 2019
Athletic are away next Saturday as they take a trip to Getafe, while Barcelona have their first game at the Camp Nou as they host Real Betis the following day.