Barça hope to end this run of less than optimal matches. A draw against Gijon and the loss Wednesday night at the Emirates is the worst run of form we have had all year long. And just after I wrote that, it makes you see the different standard and expectations levels we are held to. Whether that is fair or not is a whole different story.
I just want to start briefly by saying that we totally deserved to lose the Arsenal match, and I hope people are not that bias they cannot admit that. Arsenal were just better, 2nd half in particular. Wilshere was sublimely good in particular. I think realizing that will be good not only for fans, but the team too. We are going to have to pick up our game big time before the big return clash come March 8th.
Which brings us to tomorrow night at home against Athletic Bilbao. I wouldn’t say this was a must win game usually, but I think its very important that we do win. Maybe even a must win. Our schedule from tonight on reads as such: Bilbao (H), Mallorca (A), Valencia (A), Zaragoza (H), Arsenal (H), Sevilla (A), Villarreal (A), Getafe (H), Potential Champions League, Almeria (H), Real Madrid (A), Copa del Rey final. Now, what you will see quite easily there is our tough away run: Mallorca, Valencia, Villarreal, Sevilla, and Real Madrid. No doubt Mourinho is looking at this run as the time we could drop points. The other consequence of that tough run away from home is the important of getting maximum points at the Camp Nou without fail. And that starts tonight. Hopefully also, a really strong team performance will calm the team down and remove any potential funk or mental doubts they may (or may not) be experiencing.
Tonight is also Pep’s 100th league game in charge, and why go ruin that. As has been customary lately, Puyol is again not available. Abidal should return in the middle, seeing as he was our best defender by a mile Wednesday night. I’ve seen some section of the press feel Busquets may also get a rest tonight, but I’m not so sure being that he was maybe our best player Wednesday full stop. But if Mascherano does get a start tomorrow, I cannot see any other changes. We need to get our best 11 clicking again and playing at that high level we saw pre-Christmas break.
Bilbao wise, there doesn’t appear to be any major injury concerns to mention, though it looks like Amorebieta may not make the starting line up due to lack of fitness from a previous injury. Other than that we should see the standard Iraloa, Koikili, Martinez, the always dirty Gurpegi, and the highly soute after Llorente. Also keep an eye for Muniain, who is the Basque’s newest jewel. He has been on the stage a few years now but has apparently been blossoming thße last few months.
Bilbao don’t travel well at all and I’m hoping tonight we can exploit that. They are by no stretch an easy team, so we better be focused and prepared. I’m personally really hoping tonight is the beginning of our return to the form we all crave and desire. Let’s hope it goes well.
Enjoy the game readers. Visça Barça