Barcelona vs Athletic Club(1-0): Barcelona solved Athletic’s visit with more problems than expected in the first of the finals that remain in this League. The draw in Seville took away the privilege of depending on himself and he has no choice but to win everything and wait for a puncture from Madrid. He won, but this Barca is not reliable. The usual happened to him. A lot of control, a continuous feeling of danger when the ball is at Messi’s feet; but without clear arrivals before the opposite goal. Athletic’s only defensive failure in the absence of 20 minutes gave him an important victory, but that leaves questions.
The positive note is that he is also conceding few goals with a Ter Stegen; that is at a sensational level and that also gives points. The Basque team had already defeated the Barca players this season twice and without conceding a goal. So a disputed match was expected and so it was. Gaizka Garitano, a little friend of the changes, revolutionized the eleven and left Capa; Inigo Martinez, Muniain, Dani Garcia, and Raul Garcia on the bench; who had to be added to the sanctioned Yuri.
Although it may seem that removing six starters at once was giving Barcelona a lot of advantages it must be said that the Basque team stood up at all times and had their chances to get ahead on the scoreboard. The work of Sancet in the pressure; the good game of Vesga and Unai Lopez, and the speed of Williams above worried the locals more than expected.
Setien did not rotate despite the demanding schedule that comes with the visit to Vigo and the arrival of Atletico Madrid at the Camp Nou; in what will be the most demanding test they have in the fight for the title. The Cantabrian coach was finally able to join the trident formed by Messi, Luis Suarez, and Griezmann; and in midfield, when De Jong was injured, he aligned Arthur, Arturo Vidal, and Busquets; who will miss the shock of Vigo when seeing a yellow. Despite dominating possession overwhelmingly, Setien’s bogged down at the time of the last pass. Athletic zoned Messi at times of up to three men, but the Catalans did not know how to take advantage of the spaces that were on the wings when Leo had the ball. At the break, one more game came without clear arrivals from Barcelona.
Barcelona vs Athletic Club: Rakitic rescues Barcelona
The second part did not have any start changes and that made Setien desperate, with significant gestures in the band. He removed Riqui Puig due to a lost Arthur looking for more speed in the movement of the ball. Garitano reacted instantly and took Muniain and Dani Garcia to give consistency to the midfield. The first failure of the Athletic defense was about to take advantage of Griezmann but Unai Simon’s quick departure thwarted his opportunity. Shortly afterward the Frenchman was replaced by Ansu Fati, who had an opportunity as soon as he left.
Rakitic also came for Busquets. A fundamental change since the Croatian ended with nerves marking the 1-0 in a play with several rebounds that the red and white defense did not know how to remove. The goal came just after a controversial move in which Messi steps on Yeray’s ankle without seeing any kind of card; just like in his action with Diego Carlos in Seville.
The goal gave tranquility to those of Setien and it was such a blow for Athletic; that they did not know how to react in the remainder of the game despite having more headlines like Muniain or Capa already on the field. Barca was able to increase the score with the more open Basques; such as a double chance by Vidal and Ansu Fati; but Rakitic’s goal was enough to continue in the fight for the title. Pique, in the last minutes, complained again as in Seville. Alarm signal for the next matches. It was not a day for Barcelona to fail for a double reason for Juan Carlos Unzue; to whom they showed all their support with special shirts their fight against the disease and for the birthday of Leo Messi; who turns 33 tomorrow.