TalkBarca welcomes you to the Athletic Club vs FC Barcelona Match Review. Barcelona has lost the opening match of the league to Athletic Bilbao. It’s a disappointing start from the defending champions which takes Barca to the bottom of the league table.
It wasn’t an entertaining performance. The midfield was below average and we didn’t have the control we wanted. The forwards didn’t receive adequate service due to lack of creativity and control.
In this game, we witnessed a highly energized home side, Athletic Bilbao, who were pressing us right from the start. Meanwhile, Barca players looked a little sluggish as compared to their usual. It was a pretty even match with Barcelona dominating possession.
The score was 0-0 until the 89th minute when Aduriz scored an absolutely stunning scissor kick goal to take the lead. The Catalan Giants were without their main man, Lionel Messi, who was ruled out because of an injury. However, Barcelona still had a threatening attack with Griezmann, Suarez, and Dembele.
Athletic Club vs FC Barcelona Match Review
In this match review, we are going to discuss some positives from the game and a lot of negatives. So, brace yourself and let’s get started.
Ernesto Valverde started the same lineup as we saw in our previous game against Napoli. He told in a press conference earlier that the fans can expect a lineup quite similar to the lineup against Napoli. However, who would have thought that Valverde will play the exact same lineup? You can see the lineup in the following image:
Personally, I was expecting the same front-3 and back-4 alongside Ter Stegen as I mentioned in the match preview. However, this midfield was really off the books. I didn’t expect Valverde to start Alena, De Jong, and Roberto in the midfield especially when Rakitic and Busquets were in the squad.
At the start of the match, I was really excited about this midfield. However, as the match progressed, I noticed that there was no control in the midfield and it was failing against the high-press of Athletic Bilbao.
In-Depth Review Of Individual Performance:
I think Mats was the best player for Barca tonight. He made some crucial saves and denied I. Williams in a one-on-one situation. He showed some great reflexes and agility. He deserved a clean sheet. We conceded a goal but there was nothing he could do against Aduriz’s phenomenal strike.
Jordi Alba seemed to be lost in the game. Without Lionel Messi, he didn’t know whom to pass the ball. He made a few good runs but couldn’t land a key-pass. The club and the player have to address this issue. He has to work on his link-up play with other players as well.
Lenglet and Pique:
Both defenders had a decent game. There were times when I. Williams troubled them with his pace but they managed the defense pretty well. The goal wasn’t really their fault, it was an exceptional strike and there wasn’t much they could do about it.
Semedo had a pretty average game. He seemed to have trouble in linking up with players on the right side. He made a few forward runs but he wasn’t productive in the final third.
F. De Jong:
De Jong had a below-average game. It’s because Garcia and other midfielders from Athletic Club were marking him tightly. That’s exactly what most teams are going to do with him. He was isolated and had to play very deep. In such situations, you need support from your teammates, especially from midfielders, which wasn’t there.
I was really excited to see Alena start the game. In the start of the game, he made some excellent runs. However, he was too advanced and seemed to be under pressure. He was going for side-way passes and didn’t look determined enough to get things rolling.
In my opinion, Roberto was the worst player today on the pitch. He looked like he did know why he was there. There was no energy, determination, or creativity in his game. He was lost and was just waiting for the game to end.
I genuinely, believed that this was going to be Dembele’s day. It was a perfect moment for him to step-up. We know he is capable of scoring on such occasions. However, it was a disappointing game for him. He lost the ball very often and we didn’t see anything extra-ordinary today.
In the start of the game, Griezmann was playing very wide. We also saw him dropping deep to cover for Jordi Alba. That’s not what we want from our attackers. He should have stayed up front close to Suarez to for a connection. We need a linkup play between Suarez and Griezmann. Also, when he moved to center after Suarez’s injury, he seemed to be hesitant in taking a shot. He got the ball in good areas but he didn’t take the shot early and lost the chance.
Suarez looked really sharp when he started the game. His positioning was quite good and he seemed to time his runs perfectly. His forward runs also allowed more space for Griezmann and Dembele. In the second quarter of the match, he picked up an injury and he was forced to leave the game.
Right when he picked up the injury, he got a chance to score but the goal-post denied him. The manager substituted Suarez with Rafinha. After substitution, Griezmann moved to center in place of Suarez, Dembele moved to the left-wing, and Rafinha started on the right-wing.
Rafinha was the second-best player for FCB tonight. He was continuously causing trouble for Bilbao’s defense. He dribbled past the defenders a few times and created good opportunities. Furthermore, he had a few shots but couldn’t put his name on the scoresheet.
At times, I felt that he was being selfish. He took 2 shots from a tight angle when Griezmann was clearly in a better position, In these situations, passing the ball to Griezmann would have made more sense than taking the shot himself.
Valverde introduced Rakitic at the start of the second half in place of Alena. His presence didn’t change anything. We were still lacking control in the midfield. He changed position in the last quarter of the game but it was still a dull performance.
In the last quarter of the match, Valverde substituted Roberto with Perez. It was good to see him getting a chance in the first-team especially after a good pre-season. He was introduced to get more firing power and attacking threat. His presence didn’t change anything simply because he played only a few minutes and we cannot judge him over this performance.
The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly:
So, first of all, I would like to start with the positives. Both F. De Jong and Griezmann made their official debuts for FCB in La Liga. Ter Stegen had a brilliant game. If it wasn’t for his performance, we would have been down by 2-3 goals easily. We already know how reliable he is and how many times he has saved us. Showing such a performance at the start of the season signifies that he is ready for the challenge.
Now, let’s move on to the bad. There wasn’t a proper connection between the players and the tactics were not up to the mark. Valverde made some poor decisions with the lineup and reserves. I don’t understand why Coutinho was not in the reserves. I understand that it’s almost certain that he is leaving for Bayern Munich. However, my point is why not utilize him as long as he is here. He was needed badly once Suarez got injured and we felt his absence badly.
Finally, let’s get to the ugly side of today’s game. A defeat does not hurt the fans as much as the lack of effort and energy. In today’s game, there wasn’t any player, except Rafinha, who was trying to prove a point. Everybody should be giving 100% in all the games. We didn’t have the desire to win the game. It felt like we were just passing time and waiting for the final whistle to go off.
The manager and the team looked like they were okay with a 0-0 draw and 1 point was enough for them. We only started attacking after we conceded the goal. That’s not the mentality we want at our club. It’s not acceptable as simple as that. We have to show our desire to win every game like it’s a final decisive match of a tournament.
What does this result mean for us?
This is a wakeup call for us. We cannot expect to get glory by playing like this. Furthermore, we have to step up our game and have a solid plan before heading into a game. We will indeed support our beloved club in all conditions whether it’s a win, lose, or a tie. However, our unbounded support demands an effort from the players. It’s okay if we lose, but we have to see the fight and the desire to win.
San Memes is always a difficult stadium to visit. It’s not easy to get three points in the home of Athletic Bilbao. It wasn’t our day and we couldn’t get 3 points today which is disappointing. However, the way we played was even more concerning than the defeat. It’s only the first game of the season and I am sure we will get on the right path in the upcoming games.
Well, that was all for the Athletic Club vs FC Barcelona Match Review. I am sure you would have enjoyed this match review. What are your thoughts about this game? Let me know in the comments. You can watch highlights of the game by clicking here. Visca El Barca!