Athletic Club 2 FC Barcelona 2

athletic 2-2 barcelona messi celebrates goal 2013A 90th minute goal from Ander Herrera denied Barça victory at San Mames tonight meaning any possible celebration for winning La Liga wìll have to wait at least another week. Barça had been heading for defeat after Markel Susaeta fired Athletic into a first half lead but Leo Messi turned things round after coming on as a substitute after an hour with a brilliant individual goal followed by an assist for Alexis Sanchez.

Barça had begun the game in pretty much the same vein as we had seen in Munich. Athletic appeared more motivated and the Basques won all the early 50/50 balls. In the 6th minute Gerard Piqué lost the ball to Oscar De Marcos near the corner flag, the ball came inside to Herrera whose low cross was just out of reach of Aduriz sliding in at the far post.

After a poor opening 10 minutes Barça began to wake up a little. Dani Alves showed a good example by battling to win a free kick on the right,  Xavi Hernandez’s chipped cross was just too high for Piqué who’d got into a free position but couldn’t keep his header down. A minute later Cesc Fabregas sent a pass forward for Alexis’s diagonal run and the Chilean took the ball nicely in his stride before sending in a low shot from the edge of the area that bounced out off the far post.

Athletic responded with a header straight at Victor Valdés from Mikel San Jose but Barça were beginning to look more comfortable with Alex Song putting order to the midfield. In the 23rd minute Song found Xavi who played a quick one-two with Pedro before sending the ball into Song who’d continued his run but the final low shot from the Cameroonian lacked pace and Gorka Iraizoz dived to save.

Soon after Xavi tried his luck from 25 yards but failed to find the target and a minute later Athletic took the lead. Alves played a ball up the line towards Pedro who was robbed by the quick anticipation of Jon Aurtenetxe, the ball came forward to Iker Muniain who was allowed to enter the penalty area where he easily beat Piqué before whipping in a low cross that was met by Susaeta who knocked the ball in from two yards at the far post.

The reaction from Barça was disappointing with little direction going forward. Athletic might have made it 2-0 shortly before half time after a splendid cross from De Marcos but Aduriz’s header flew over the bar. Then just before the break Xavi sent a long ball forward for Fabregas who dribbled past Borja Ekiza but when the keeper came out Cesc could only pass the ball across the face of the goal where there was nobody to stick the ball home.

Adriano replaced Eric Abidal at half time as the Frenchman had a slight muscle strain but there was little improvement from Barça. In the 52nd minute a quick exchange of passes gave Xavi the chance to send Alexis into the right of the area, Ekiza seemed to use his arm to knock the Chilean off the ball and referee Iglesias Villanueva waved play on. Four minutes later Susaeta curled a free kick onto the crossbar and Aduriz following up headed narrowly wide.

With half an hour remaining Tito Vilanova called for Leo Messi and the Argentinian had an immediate effect on the game. Within 20 seconds he had already had a shot blocked and a minute later he showed speed to sprint away from San José before setting up Pedro on the right but Pedro’s low shot was too close to Iraizoz.

athletic 2-2 barcelona leo messi 2013Messi’s appearance seemed to inspire his team-mates. Alves made one excellent run forward before squaring for Alexis 15 yards out but his low shot went straight at Iraizoz. Then in the 67th minute Thiago brought the ball forward before finding Messi 30 yards out, the Argentinian skipped to the left to beat San José’s lunge before twisting right to go past Gurpegi and then left again as he slalomed past Herrera, arriving to the edge of the area from where he fired low into the far corner for an authentic golazo.

Two minutes later Piqué sent the ball forward to Alves on the right and the Brazilian’s cross found Messi storming into the area to try a header that was flying a good couple of yards wide until Alexis got in the way, controlling with his chest before sweeping the ball low past Iraizoz from six yards.

athletic 2-2 barcelona alexis celebrates goal 2013The double blow seemed to have killed off Athletic and there was little danger on Barça’s goal as the clock ticked towards full time. Alves had a chance to wrap things up but he shot too close to Iraizoz and Athletic made one last push to find an equalizer. In the 89th minute Song lost the ball in midfield but he did well to get back and rob Muniain as he entered the area. Then a minute later Piqué allowed a cross from the left, Song jumped for the ball but didn’t arrive, perhaps putting off Adriano who could only head weakly out to Herrera who cracked in a low shot that beat Valdés at his near post.

athletic 2-2 barcelona alexis iraizoz 2013To be fair Barça didn’t deserve the three points after a disappointing first hour. As in Munich we were outfought by a team who showed more desire for the victory. One has to ask questions about the team selection with only four changes to the starting XI in Munich, with Alves, Piqué and Xavi all starting when we will need these players as fresh as possible for the return with Bayern on Wednesday. Surely today was a day to give some youngsters another chance and we could easily have played with Montoya, Bartrá and Dos Santos and these players would probably have shown more ambition. Madrid’s victory at Atlético means we are still five points away from clinching the league but for now we must switch our attention back to the Champions League. The impact from Messi today can give us hope as he showed how with a couple of interventions we can score two goals in as many minutes. However, we will need a big improvement from the rest of the players as we must have everybody at their best if we are going to stand any chance of pulling off the miracle against Bayern

Athletic: Iraizoz; Iraola, San José (Ramalho m70), Ekiza, Aurtenetxe (Ibai Gomez m73); Gurpegui, De Marcos, Herrera; Susaeta, Aduriz (Llorente m74), Muniain.

Barça: Valdés 5.5; Alves 6, Piqué 5, Abidal 6 (Adriano m45, 6), Alba 5.5; Xavi 6 (Messi m59, 8), Song 6.5, Thiago 6.5; Alexis 6.5 (Iniesta m78, 6), Fàbregas 5.5, Pedro 5.5.

Goals: m27 Susaeta 1-0, m67 Messi 1-1, m69 Alexis 1-2, m90 Herrera 2-2.

Yellow cards: m35 Fabregas (misses next league match), m39 Herrera, m55 Adriano, m86 Gurpegi, m93 De Marcos.

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18 Responses to Athletic Club 2 FC Barcelona 2

  1. layibiyi says:

    Messindependent 🙂

    Tito with some funny rotation, hope they still go hard for the bayern game anyways

    Sad to see abidal go off, I was hoping to see him in a probable 3 man defence on wednesday. Liked thiago, can he be another x-factor?

  2. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    What’s going on with the team? Without Messi, the team seems to be suffering so much! Aren’t these the core of the Spanish national team? Why can’t they just revert to the National team tactics at times?? I have got a funny feeling that we are going to lose at home to Bayern as well

  3. bc9jaCule says:

    Really, Nic, I appreciate your committment to the highly tasking demands of running this blog but I humbly beg to differ on some aspects of your review.

    You seem so content to excuse our sloppiness with your choice of words, making me suspect some specks of selective journalism. See, I have always supported the Barca crest but that will NEVER make me turn a blind eye to whatever is amiss. Personally, I’m always self-critical and I always welcome constructive criticism too. So, I don’t understand why you always choose to not hit the nail on the head.

    For instance, in your third paragraph, I just wonder how hard it was for you to TRUTHFULLY state that Pique made a VERY POOR header despite seemingly being the only one in the penalty box (yes, he was TOO free). Again, Aduriz’s header from De Marcos’ splendid cross (that could have made it 2-0) was as a result of an EMBARRASSING defending from Pique because I still vividly remember Pique lackadaisically static & ducking while a dangerous cross was being delivered into his own 18-yard box. Instead of pressuring the attacker & contesting the header, Pique generously afforded Aduriz the freedom of an easy one. Truth be told, Pique is an amazing ball player when the ball is at his feet but just makes for a terrible, terrible defender in 1-on-1 situations. Generally, our defenders rarely make vital clearances, scarcely block shots &, with only the exception of Puyol and Masch, barely make timely tackles. In fact, more worrisome is their faltering & flickering level of concentration, especially in the dying embers of games. Moreover, Xavi can’t shoot from distance, even into an empty net – no matter the space you give him. Faberegas is TOTAL CRAP against quality oppositions & Pedro is getting highly inconsistent. Messi, undeniably our reliable go-to guy, comes in and saves our blushes with a goal from the top drawer and an assist, only for our defenders to undo his efforts – VERY PATHETIC & PAINFUL.

    Dear Nic, these are some of the things I expect you to touch on when you are writing your p/reviews because it gives a true conception & reflection of how the team is faring — what is lacking, who is lagging behind and what can be done to amend unfavourable situations so as to move the ministry that is FC Barcelona, forward. Yes, we, as fans, are outrageously demanding being the ever-wanting Oliver Twists of this world but, seriously, your not saying these things, to me, is inexcusable.

    All things being equal, the Liga is already won by Barca but with the level we’ve reached over the years, things like complacency &the likes are just unacceptable. Now, more than ever, I’ve come to the full comprehension of what Dani Alves meant when he said that; ‘We were the reason Guardiola left because we were not doing things the way he so craved’. More so, I’ve come to terms with his (Guardiola’s) decision to flush players like Faberegas & Pique out of the squad.

    I so submit.

    Visca Barca!!!!!
    Forca Barca!!!!!

    • barcacentralnic says:

      I have no intention of excusing our sloppiness but forgive me if I don’t easily use words like embarrassing, pathetic, crap and painful for a group of players who have given me so much joy in recent years. I do however use ‘disappointing’ ‘poor’ ‘outfought’ ‘need for big improvement’. which I think reflects on our performance.
      As for Piqué I point out three of his mistakes while giving him only a 5 which you will know is not too common in my ratings. I felt his header over was because the cross was just too high but I haven’t watched it again so apologies if I got it wrong.
      Apologies for not giving a longer reply but I’ve been out all day and it’s late. As for all the who-we-should-buy and who-we-should-sell stuff I’ll save my opinions for a later post in a week with less going on.

  4. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    2 considerations for the match against Bayern
    1) Song starting ahead of Xavi
    2) David Villa, Tello and Messi to make the front 3
    3) Alexis to be banned from even the bench. (regardless even if he scored, he was shit all through out, as always the case)
    4) Abidal and Bartra/Adriano instead of Pique
    5) Montoya at Left back.

    My final Line-Up
    Valdes
    Alves, Bartra, Abidal, Montoya,
    Iniesta, Busquets, Song
    David Villa, Tello, Messi

    Everybody in the team needs to press hard for the ball….and work hard for the team….Players lacking in fitness, slow and out of form should not be considered. We need a fantastic motivator for this game. We need to win this match for the fans. We need to prove a point!!!

    • trurly i too wanna kick alexis out

      • FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

        thumbs up to that! I watched 99.999 % of Alexis in the Barcelona colors….and even on his best days….the kid is lost. It is in his nature to over elaborate things. Alexis needs the ball all the time…Alexis is more influential when deployed as the number 10 just behind the main striker. Alexis, even at Udinense was a complete pile of shit when deployed on the wings.

        Barcelona’s technical staff is getting tooo smart with their experiments. Mascherano and Song are shit as center backs. They make good DM;s and CM’s for any other team. We can rely on Song’s passing range, but i’m afraid Mascherano does not have that consistent ability to pick a pass neither is he good at keeping possession. His main asset is his tackling and aggression. In a team like Barcelona, Mascherano can only be deployed as a CB. But even in that position Mascherano’s height and ability in the air fails him miserably. With an off form, lackluster Pique, MASCHERANO’S WEAKNESS becomes clearer than daylight when against top class opponents.

        Fabregas is another unique case. Fabregas talent is undoubted, but I suspect that his overall fitness has reached unrepairable damage during his time at Arsenal. This results in him not able to press for the ball as aggressively as we need him to for 90 minutes. I remember very fondly how Fabregas spent half of his last 2 seasons with the medical staff at Arsenal more than he was on the pitch. He can hide his fitness levels against lower teams in La Liga, but in the aggressive nature of the BPL, he just can’t. How can we have a player who can’t do the pressing of the ball that we need to actually have any hope of starting in that midfield 3 today or in the future?? Can someone enlighten me?? In my books, Thiago has the clear advantage either way you put it.

        Urgent clear-out!!
        1)Alexis (due to technical abilities, ill-suited approach, lack of goals, holds the ball for way oo long without going anywhere, slows down the attack, more suited in the middle but sadly, we have better players in that position as well)

        2)David Villa (due to age and the fact that we could cash in on him)

        3) Victor Valdes ( he wants out, we could use the cash)

        Possible Clear-out if offers are great!!
        1) Dani Alves (age is not on his side, we might need the money and Montoya is really pretty good)
        2) Pique ( Has been good for barely 15 games in this past 2 seasons) Drop in form could be due to lack of discipline and the Shakira factor. Something that we could do without
        3) Fabregas (good passing range, decent goal scoring ability for a midfielder, however overall fitness is a great concern. Unable to press for the ball for 90 minutes, and unable to sustain good form for 3/4 of the season atleast.
        4)Mascherano (Best suited as a CB in a team like Barcelona, however his lack of height makes him a liability in the team)

        In summary, we could easily fetch 100M if we managed to clear all of them at 1 go.

        That + the 50 M we have at the moment, we should be able to get 2-3 good CBS, a great number 9 and a good keeper and perhaps a good defensive coach as well =D

  5. bc9jaCule says:

    On a side note, this is what I’ll like our squad to look like next season:

    STARTING XI:
    Guaita
    Alves-Mascherano-Hummels-Alba
    Thiago-Busquets-Iniesta
    Alexis-Messi-Neymar

    SUBSTITUTES:

    Keepers;
    Pinto Oier

    Defenders;
    Puyol Pique Bartra

    Midfielders;
    Xavi Song Fabregas Sergi Roberto

    Attackers;
    Villa Pedro Cuenca Tello

    What’s your take on this, cules?

    • bc9jaCule says:

      After a deep second thought, I won’t mind having Villa out of the squad entirely so as to accomodate Montoya amongst the substitute defenders.

    • FCBarcelonaRocks says:

      I disagree, I have to say. I wouldn’t want Neymar in our,team. Neymar is another over rated dribbler of the ball with a massive flamboyant attitude that could lead to a dip in discipline. In terms of quality, Neymar is A player that we already have in the likes of Tello, Iniesta, Messi…what we really need is a player in the simillar mould as Villa also known as Lewandowski, or Falcao, even Hulk. Next, I would like to mention that your assessment of Villa is inaccurate. Villa, is our 2nd highest scorer with a minimum amount of games. The guy had a dip of form recently, however, one must remember that even in that so called dip of form, Vila was key in our progress to the semis. Without his assist for Pedro’s goal….we wouldn’t even be talking about Bayern at this point.

      • bc9jaCule says:

        Listen cule, I don’t think u want Villa in that squad any more than I do but u’ll agree with me that; the peripheral role he’s being reduced to is an ABUSE to such a reliable marksman. So, since the coaching staff don’t seem to count on him so much, I think he will be of more use to some other clubs and that will allow us to accomodate another defender in Montoya.

        As for the Neymar issue, THAT is exactly the kind of player we need on our left flank of attack. A player who can actually destract defenders and stretch defences while beating his markers 7 out of 10 times and bringing the ball into the danger zone and either score or as well lay off the ball for others to do same. That will definitely free up players like Messi and Iniesta and you know what that means. Now imagine; a combination of Neymar-Iniesta-Messi-Alexis — all world class dribblers — terrorizing the defence of our opponents with devastating effect and scoring loads and loads of golazos — BREATHTAKING!!!!!

        Well, a Lwandoski or a Falcao won’t be bad either, instead of Neymar. I just made my own submissions based on my own humble opinion.

        • FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

          I respect your point of view. But i still disagree on the Neymar bit. You should really watch most of Neymar’s games against top opponents before really counting on the guy.

          1- Neymar dribbles in field most of the time instead of using the width. He depends more on 1-2’s instead of supplying width.
          2) Now we have 2 players similar. Leo Messi and Neymar one on the right and the other on the left. Except that Neymar is non reliable to get past his marker as much as Messi or Tello is capable of doing. Neymar can do his magic in Brazil, but against top class defence, and Europe’s elite, Neymar appears more of a ‘Robinho’ sort of player, nothing more, could be lesser.

          I conclude that amongst the current best Brazilian players, PSG has already taken the best of the lot. LUCAS MOURA. For FC Barcelona to do the Neymar experiment for above 30M is a huge huge gamble on our finance that we really really need at the moment. We need 1-2 goood center backs. We need a fantastic goal scorer. A fantastic number 9 who has enough quality to play anywhere in that front 3. And lastly, we need a reliable sweeper keeper.

    • FCBarcelonaRocks says:

      Players we should keep
      1) Pedro
      2)Messi
      3) Iniesta
      4) xavi
      5) Thiago
      6) Bartra
      7) Tello
      8) Abidal
      9) Puyol
      10 Dani Alves
      11)Adriano
      12) Alba
      13)Busquets
      14) song

      Players we should hunt down
      1) Lewandowski
      2) Falcao
      3) Hummels
      4) Dante
      5) Kompany
      6) Matuidi
      7) Otamendi

      Clear Out
      Fabregas
      Mascherano
      Alexis Sanchez
      David Villa
      Pique
      Valdes

  6. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    Andrea Ranocchia should be added into the list of must buy as well. The Inter Milan defender has been doing absolutely well lately

  7. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    bc9jaCule. Do you realize that Alexis is not a World Class dribbler?? Do you actually realize that??

    Alexis at best could take on 1-3 players. Most of the time, he fails at taking out his marker. And there are times where he succeeds in doing so, but even then, he will over elaborate things again, resulting in his marker recovering to remark him once again. This time his marker will have 2 to 3 players to help him out…..and BOOM Alexis does what Alexis does best ——->TAKE A WORLDCLASS DIVE!!!! Alexis has indeed had some few good moments in the team, however those few moments have been shadowed by ALL THE RUBBISH DISPLAYS OF FOOTBALL! A 31 year old David Villa is way better than the current Alexis!

  8. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    My final BARCELONA 2013 should be as follows: 19 players are good enough. Keep it tight, keep it compact,,on emergency cases, we will call upon our youth team.
    (The players not mentioned should all be either sold or loaned-out)
    1- Messi
    2- Pedro
    3- Robert Lewandowski/Falcao/ Hulk/ Higuain(yes I said it)
    4- Tello
    5- Abidal
    6- Thiago Alcantara
    7- Iniesta
    8- Song
    9- Hugo Lloris/Guaita/Mandanda/Vorm
    10- Matt Hummels/Kompany/Cheilini
    11- Andrea Ranocchia/Agger/Dante
    12- Xavi
    13- Alba
    14- Busquets
    15- Adriano
    16- Sergi Roberto
    17- Bartra
    18- Puyol
    19- Montoya

  9. Pingback: Preview: Athletic Club vs FC Barcelona (game 15 liga 2013/14) | barçacentral

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