Athletic Club has been defeated by FC Barcelona 3-1. The local were scored by Ronaldinho…
Athletic Club has been defeated by FC Barcelona 3-1. The local were scored by Ronaldinho on two occasions and Touré Yaya, whereas Markel Susaeta has been the author of our team’s only goal.
Seeing the end result everything indicates that a classic match was disputed against a strong team that in its home debut has not pardoned but, unfortunately, the story is very well-known in these neck of the woods and has more factors than the usual before a superior rival as has already happened; for example, in last season’s first leg of the Liga.
And it’s been repeated in the second matchday of the 2007-2008 Liga. The locals have been superior, mostly in the first half, but the carpet by which they journeyed until the final win has certainly not been the closest to that which regulation establishes, for example, when it comes to penalty or goal.
It’s no excuse. It’s clear the team has been spine-less since the beginning and that slow start carried its weight before a rival such as today’s, but it’s also time to stop taking shelter in the shop-soiled ‘these teams are so good that they don’t need help’ and go into denouncing them when they are assisted; more so if, as has happened on this occasion, they have direct impact on the final score, which is what gives and takes away points well beyond a team’s game.
Without dragging this out too far, because there were thousands of witnesses, we could say that the foul called in 8th minute on Iraola over Ronaldinho was at least questionable and it served for the latter to inaugurate the scoreboard with a strong shot on goal. Let us just accept, if you’d like, and with sportsmanship, that it was a foul and that the match turned into an uphill all too soon. What is unacceptable is to think that the play that preceded the 2-0 was a penalty and, much less, to agree with something that is visibly unfair thinking that once Susaeta’s goal-scoring debut in an official match (m. 70) was achieved the referee saw a goal and, while at it, he shattered our team´s renewed hopes.
Some will tell us that it’s soccer. We agree. Let us look for references, without going too far, either in space, mainly for the attachment to living soccer that way; or in time, because it’s happened this same season. Not too long ago, in the English Premier League the position adopted by the Federation and a referee after the Liverpool-Chelsea match had great repercussions. The referee mistakenly awarded a non-existent penalty against Liverpool, but a few days later the federation announced that the referee had been sanctioned and he later made a public apology. It would be a good example, at least as a consolation, but some say the Three Wise Men are the parents.
Before presenting our defence, Athletic appeared with a 4-2-3-1 that lacked depth, except for some sparks down the right wing with triangulations between Iraola, Tiko and David Lopez, and later Susaeta, and possessions lost all too soon particularly when facing an enemy such as a culé. These didn’t need great goal occasions since in the first play, in the minute 8, they were ahead on the marker.
Relatively firm back, but without gunpowder, just some free-kicks that ended up in Valdes’ hands, brought uneasiness to the locals. The encounter moved along that same dynamic until, in the minute 31, a good pass by Ronaldinho to Henry caused Iraizoz to exit to protect the net, the French forward turned away the ball and when Amorebieta, from several meters away, had cleared it, Henry’s boot hit Iraizoz in the face (he needed several stitches) ending in … a penalty and yellow card for the goalkeeper.
Terrific! Ronaldinho scored the 2-0 in the minute 34 and in the 45th he again brushed the third, but Iraizoz responded with stretched-out reflexes.
In the second half, Athletic came in with a 4-4-2 after Vélez went in for Gabilondo and David Lopez took the left wing, although the dominant tendency continued to be the attack down the right. Athletic then put FC Barcelona on the short leash and the first option was for Vélez in the minute 52, but he couldn’t control Tiko’s long pass and Oleguer got in his way at the last minute. In the 59th, Aduriz tried a header, and in the same minute Barça had a triple opportunity, one of the few of the second half, when Henry shot to the post, Iraizoz deflected to Deco and later blocked Messi’s subsequent shot on goal.
Giovani, without touching format, entered for Henry after an hour of play and later Iniesta did so for Deco. In the 63rd, Susaeta brushed the goal from a free-kick which caught Valdes off guard, but after an failed attempt by the mentioned Giovani, Susaeta scored his first goal with Athletic after finishing off a deflection from a defender in the minute 71 and from outside the area.
The rojiblancos were excited, but their enthusiasm lasted about as long as it takes soda to lose its fizz.
Two to one, still an open match with just over a quarter of an hour to go and a shot by Touré to the crossbar in the minute 73 that bounced back to the pitch. Play continued, and to everyone’s surprise the assistant, eager for action and right at the line… but at the off-side line, came to the centre of the field ignoring our player’s complaints and certified a story that unfortunately for us is all too familiar. By doing so, he trashed all doses of hope that our Athletic had ingested; a team that must improve, especially in the in attack but not because of that should it have to ‘be forced’ to receive the treatment it did in the Camp Nou. Our sent-off players, we’re two for two; they have been and will surely be sanctioned. However, will anyone apologize?