Well, that was quick. In the preview to this match, I talked about what the Spanish call ganas, or what some of us in the baseball world would call want: that is, a player or a team's level of dedication to a cause, their will to win and to succeed. I talked about how neither of these two teams had exhibited very much will to win--they just didn't have very much want--towards the end of the season. Both sides let important titles slip from their fingers, and both sides had payed the ultimate price--that is, being essentially shut out.
Well, not any more.
It's pretty fitting that Barcelona would come out so well today--after all, it is Pep Guardiola's last match as manager. Guardiola, for all the bumps he took at times (and really, he didn't take that many bumps--he's pretty much the most successful manager in Barça's history), has always been a tactical genius, and he didn't disappoint tonight. His side has absolutely dominated Marcelo Bielsa's very poor Athletic Bilbao, taking the lead only two minutes after the starting whistle on a blast by Pedro. The ball could have been cleared by Athletic's defense--which has been piss-poor on the night--but Pedro slipped in and slotted the ball (and, it looks like, the game) home.
After that goal, it didn't look like Bilbao would have any shot of getting back into the match. And Leo Messi put them out of their misery only fifteen minutes later, when in the 19th minute, Andrés Iniesta found him lurking in the area. Messi controlled Iniesta's brilliant pass with ease, and found the back of the net with his right foot, beating keeper Gorka Iraizoz (great name) on the near post. 0-2, and the celebrations had already begun in Cataluña.
But the half wasn't even...halfway (...) done at that point; Barcelona still had a full twenty-five minutes to score a few more! And score they did, as Pedro curled a back pass past a diving Iraizoz only five minutes later. The play was set up by a series of mishaps by the Athletic defense--who, like I said, were by a large margin the worst part of this game (though I can't think of a team that could keep Barça in check when they're playing like this). Ultimately, though, Pedro and Barcelona have been hugely, infinitely, superior in both tactical quality and ganas (want).
After the goal, in the lull period between their domination and the final whistle, Fernando Llorente was pulled down in the box, marking one of the most obvious penalties ever not called in a final. It was shocking. But ultimately, it won't matter.
Because Barcelona are displaying a tremendous amount of want.
(Oh, and for what it's worth, there were no major incidences during the national anthem. Phew.)