FC Barcelona VS Athletic Club 2/20/2011 | Athletic Club’s Official Website
Matchday 24

FC Barcelona2 : 1Athletic Club

Camp Nou
9:00 PM
Date and time
2/20/2011 - 9:00 PM

Good collective work but back home empty-handed

FC Barcelona 2 – Athletic Club 1 Athletic Club lost 2-1 against FC Barcelona. Iraola,…

Feb 20, 2011

FC Barcelona 2 – Athletic Club 1

Athletic Club lost 2-1 against FC Barcelona. Iraola, from the penalty spot, scored the red and white goal, while Villa and Messi scored for the home side. Our team played a good game and put up a good fight against the all-powerful Catalan team. Nevertheless, the correct collective work and the generous commitment were not enough to continue to add to the European objective which, curiously after two consecutive defeats, is still there, not in vain Athletic remain in fifth place.

Throughout the week, the message sent out from Lezama has referred to the fact that, in order to score at a ground like the Camp Nou, as well as doing everything right, it was necessary to have good fortune as an ally and for the home side not to have their day, as well as not conceding goals quickly. As it was, the start of the game was to be feared.

Only three minutes into the game, Villa scored the first goal of the night when he received a back pass from Alves, who had started in an illegal position. The most pessimistic predicted a heavy defeat, but our team is not one of those who crumple at the first adversity and Barcelona had to sweat to be able to take the three points. By way of consolation, the word “calm” did not enter the rival dressing room until the final whistle.

It was a foregone conclusion that Guardiola’s side would take the initiative, that they would have the ball almost in their own half and that it would be difficult to reach Pinto’s domain. However, Athletic never threw in the towel and, with their approach and to the best of their ability, challenged Barça for every one of the three points at stake.

The first response to the early goal came from Susaeta from Llorente’s cross, but his diving header was sent out for a corner by Valdés’ substitute in the 11th minute. The referee did not see it that way, while Susaeta protested about the failure to signal the corner kick or about a push he had received. However, Athletic, with Iturraspe, Susaeta, Gabilondo and Amorebieta in the starting eleven, opted today for the long ball, something that their opponents also expected and which they tried to counteract with the presence of Busquets at centre-back. In the aforementioned state of affairs, the key was to get to the end alive, with a real chance of scoring.

And between the attempt to overwhelm by some and the need to go forward by others, in the absence of clear chances, which would come, Koikili got the first card of the match and shortly after Iraola, his fifth in the current league and which will force him to stop against Valencia. De Marcos has serious options to take his place. Both full-backs were cautioned and they had to keep on rowing, because at the slightest slip up the blaugranas are capable of destroying the most praiseworthy intentions and that is what Villa was up to in the 26th minute with a lob against the crossbar of the red and white goal.

Alves also picked up his fifth yellow card, while as half-time approached Athletic took a step forward and even had a clear chance to equalise before the break, but after a perfect cross from the left by Gabilondo, Llorente’s header was blocked by Pinto. A pity because, apart from the goal scored “that way”, the number of chances for both teams before the break was similar, two per side, as in the 43rd minute Villa again sent the ball over the crossbar.

There was a game to play and to face the second half Caparrós withdrew Iturraspe and introduced Toquero. Barça wanted to come out on top, but the goal came from the red and white team, and very early on. Llorente got in front of Busquets and was tripped in the 49th minute. He was shown the yellow card, although if it had been a red card, nothing would have happened at all. In case there were any doubts, during the course of the match Busquets himself had done enough to earn a total of three or four yellow cards, but the difficulty of refereeing gives way to such paranormal phenomena, or not so paranormal.

And while Pinto was trying to make Javi Martínez nervous, the latter gave the ball to Iraola to equalise from eleven metres and, in the process, to start another match in which a team with pride and courage that wants to grow and another consolidated in the elite have met, but which has seen for many passages of the match the panic of not being able to win, even though the most logical thing is that everyone loses from time to time, even in the second best Scottish League in the world. And in this new dynamic, another disputed card, the yellow shown to Piqué for bringing down Toquero when he was last in line.

Between protests Gabilondo made Pinto work from a free-kick and our team was becoming more and more comfortable in their opponents’ half. It was an exciting and dangerous challenge, because Barcelona are a tough nut to crack in a head-to-head. Busquets reminded us of this in the 56th minute when he headed high and between the comings and goings Athletic were multiplying to go up, go down, steal balls, lose them as late as possible, cover gaps, swing, press, try to get on top and start again to see if it was true about the rival’s crisis, while the home side searched and searched while the pressure from the crowd on the referee was increasing, especially after Messi fell after a tackle by Javi Martínez in the 60th minute following a spectacular slalom by the Argentine. Ramírez Domínguez was well positioned and made ostensible gestures to continue the play.

Nervousness was palpable in the air. Maxwell replaced Mascherano five minutes later, Busquets moved to midfield and Abidal to the centre of defence. Barça did not slow down and gradually tightened the noose. Iraizoz saved a shot from Villa in the 70th minute, but our team’s intention was not to arrive at the leader’s ground to make a good impression, but to try to take the points and Muniain came on for Gabilondo. Unfortunately, the presence of the new man did not reduce the killer instinct of the Brazilian full-back and in one of his repeated forays into the heart of the area Messi finished off the cross into the net in the 77th minute.

From then until the end, although Barça enjoyed space, synonymous with chances, in the boots of Messi (good save by Iraizoz) and Iniesta, the work done by both sides had been enormous. In our team, David López replaced Susaeta, moving Muniain to the right. It was not to be, and Athletic closed the Sunday fixture with zero points and a good image, which seems to have served as consolation for those who after the previous defeat suggested that the team had almost thrown away their European options, when in reality the most positive thing is that the red and white team are fifth despite two consecutive defeats. To avoid going off the deep end, it should be noted that, with better or worse feelings, the important thing in the weekly work is to win the competition match and despite the good image shown, winning is essential to continue feeding the European dream in a final stretch in which every point is going to be a blood sweat. While Valencia arrive, let’s stay, in the absence of points, as in the advert, with the idea that seeing the almighty powers suffer, even if only for a little while, is priceless.