This was a match between the champions of Spain and the solid middle-peasants. Both teams were average in the previous game. In the last six games, Barcelona lost points as they drew Girona 2:2 and lost to Leganes 1:2. After this game, Athletic lost points four times in a row. Drawing three games and losing one against Villarreal. Now they have 7 points in 6 matches and the current 14th position.
Barcelona started the game very brightly, with neat one-twos and passing triangles in midfield. It was Luis Suárez who took charge of the attack and nearly scored a sensational free kick in the opening 10 minutes, but his shot went just wide of the post.
Athletic survived the early pressure and began to show their ability to counter-attack. Iñaki Williams was the key player with his pace and a thorn on the side of the Barcelona’s centerbacks all half. He had two chances to put his team ahead but couldn’t produce a quality finish.
Philippe Coutinho and Suárez, who was active and moving all over the final third to create for himself and others. Unai Simón had to make two fantastic saves to stop Suárez.
It was Oscar De Marcos, the right back, who managed to get that first goal of the match after an assist from Susaeta. It was one of just two shots on target all day.
Messi didn’t start the second half right away. Busquets was the first to replace an injured Sergi Roberto, and Messi came on for Vidal with 35 minutes to go.
This Messi for Vidal substitute I didn’t understand. Vidal was playing good, and he was creating good linkage between the defense and the attack. But Valverde again played favoritism here with Ivan, who was not having a good game.
Just like he do all the time with Pique. Till now Pique has not been rested for a single game of the season, including CL game. I will question Valverde rotation policy here. Just like I did last season, all the time.
It showed the still how much Barcelona is just dependent on the Argentine forward.
Messi did turn the match on its head right after he stepped on the field. He hit the woodwork, as Philippe Coutinho did, as Barca pressed for an equalizer. He was the one who assisted Munir for the equalizer during the second half, but that goal came six minutes before the final whistle.
Barcelona got a last chance when Piqué made a run into the box and found Suárez for a smooth finish, but the goal was disallowed due to offside. The last ten minutes we saw how Barcelona wasn’t able to create enough chances for themselves.
Many players got booked during those final minutes out of frustration; even Lionel Messi got a yellow card right after the final whistle for arguing with the referee. Barcelona players knew that this result wasn’t the referee’s fault, the whole squad is currently going through a dip in form.
“We were coming from a season in which scoring a goal against us was very difficult, now we concede too easily. We have to become defensively stronger. We can’t keep conceding goals in every single match. We have a good enough squad to be a great team, a strong side that doesn’t have to depend on anyone else. These results are a real shame, but we have to remain calm and realize that the season ahead of us is still very long,” said Messi to the press after the match.
A genuinely fantastic match that saw both teams play excellent football from start to finish. Final Score 1-1, Munir rescues a point for Barcelona in a fantastic game. Although after all this Barcelona is still on the top of the league, which is hard to believe.
Other teams, like Real Madrid and Athletic Madrid dropping points in a local derby. But Sevilla is catching up to the top of the table. Next LaLiga game will be an away game for Barcelona against right struggling side Valencia.
But his teammates weren’t as responsive as they usually are and this was Barcelona’s ultimate downfall.
This game shows that as compared to last season Valverde is not able to gel the team in half time. Last season Barcelona was a different team altogether second half of all the games. Valverde use to come out with some solution for sure to get the win. Plus we saw players head dropping and lack in confidence after Bilbao scored the first goal.
They were like, ok happening its all over again. And this is not some end of the season time; we are only seven games into a new season. Valverde lost my confidence in last match itself when Barcelona failed to Leganes. I was a big believer of his pragmatics and instead solution. But this season he is running out of the excuse.
FC Barcelona has now missed the chance to win in three consecutive matches. Barcelona now needs to focus on the next Champions League game against Tottenham Hotspur.