Yet another Emphatic win for the men in blues and red against the Basque team and 3 vital points are now in Barcelona’s pocket. Our very own the Birthday boy Lionel Messi got an assist and the surprise goal from Rakitic created a roar among the fans. The La Masia boys Fati and Puig made the clear difference with thier impact on the pitch and integrated more rythm and energy into the game. Let’s move onto the Barca player ratings vs Athletic Bilbao.
Marc Andre Ter Stegen(6.7/10):
It’s now 5 consecutive clean sheet for the German sweeper keeper. Ter Stegen wasnt hazzled much by the pacy Inaki Williams tonight but he made some vital blocks and saves to keep Barcelona alive. He had a passing accuracy of 91.1% and was solid at the back.
The Portuguese had yet another great game and was very much active in the middle third of the pitch. Despite his great touches, passes, ability to run into spaces, he isnt holding the width properly. Infact, he is making inverted runs into the middle of the pitch and gets more involved in the buildup instead. The primary function of fullbacks under Setien is to stretch the opposition but Semedo is doing the opposite.
Pique has definitely improved since the break and it was very visible today on the pitch. He manhandled Inaki Williams who on the transitions can be very deadly and silenced him. Due to this, Garitano had to sub out Inaki Williams. The Spaniard had 3 clearance, 2 interceptions throughout the whole game. In the final minutes, he was looking to get subbed out but he kept on playing till the final whistle. Hope it isnt anything serious.
The silent warrior of Barcelona had yet another amazing game. The Frenchmen is slowly and slowly making himself an untouchable Barcelona starter in the heart of the defence. Lenglet had 4 clearances, 2 interceptions and had 5 out of the 6 aerial duels won. This shows that Lenglet is becoming a serious threat for opposition forwards in respect to his aerial abilities. He also created 1 key chance in the game.
Arguably the most improved player under Setien. Alba has truly benefited from Setien’s play. Alba was yet again amazing in this encounter. Alba’s offensive threat is something everyone know but in defence he is becoming a vital plug. He made 2 clearance, 2 interceptions, 1 tackle in the game. This shows how good Alba has been recently and is hitting his form.
The Brazilian had a okayish game against his horrendous show versus Seville. In the initial minutes of the game, Arthur was looking lively making good passes, making progressive runs in final third but as the game progressed, he again seemed to look lost. If he keeps on like this then Setien will have to bench him.
The Maestro dropped yet another average performance. This is actually becoming more concerning for the Barcelona faithful. The player who regained his form under Setien is now like a shadow of his former self. Busquets throughout the match either made lateral passes or passed it to Messi. It will be better for both him and Setien to bring a solution. To give Busquets some rest, he should be benched against Celta Vigo
Vidal was playing exactly like he played against Seville and it was expected that he will be subbed off soon but it all changed when Riqui Puig was brought in. Him and Puig would than go on to aggressively press the opponents forcing them to lose the possession. Suddenly he looked more lively and fresh into the game. His on the ball game was not that good but off the ball he seemed to be like a bull.
The Frenchman would be frustrated after he was subbed off during the 65th min of the game. Griezmann from the start of the game tried to link play with his teammates, he connected the midfield and helped them push forward to create opportunities. He was also pulling out Athletic defenders but Suarez wasnt utilizing that space. He looked flabbergasted when Messi was constantly passing the ball to Suarez and not him. I hope that they resolve this issue and try to work better from next match.
By now it’s very clear that Luis Suarez has completely or is near to complete decline. He dropped yet another disaster tonight. He was losing the ball in the 18 yard box, got dispossessed constantly and wasnt linking with Griezmann. It’s high time for Setien to use Suarez as impact sub rather than giving him the whole 90 minutes.
The birthday boy got the vital assist to get the 3 points and also is Barcelona’s man of the match. Despite the opposition low block, Messi was trying harder and harder to get past opposition. He completed 10 dribbles out of 14. This means that Messi has twice the dribbles completed than the whole Bilbao team in the match.
Despite all the criticism faced by the Croatian, he scored the winning and the only goal of the match. Rakitic has tremendously improved post break. He was great against Seville as well. One of the key reason I think is that Setien is deploying him as an advance 8 were he can get the best out of his aspects. Today he was giving a lot of vertical passes and also was proving to be a constant threat for the opposition defenders. He might surely start against Celta.
Puig finally got more than 30 minutes to showcase his talent and worth. He just exploded into the match bringing in the much needed rythm and pace. He quickly adapted with the team and was progressing the ball really well. Those 35 minutes is an assurance that the Barcelona midfield is in very safe hands. Along with Rakitic, Puig should definitely start against Celta Vigo.
This pass from him was magnificent and broke the whole midfield line.
He just played for 11 minutes and had just 10 touches.
The golden boy as always created a major impact on the pitch. He injected his Dribbling and pace to create terror among the Bilbao right back and right centre back. He also had a major chance to seal the deal. He won 4 out of 6 ground duels and won 3 out of 4 aerial duels. Making him a great threat when left in a 1v1 situation. To rest Suarez, Fati as a starter against Celta will be more than great.
- All stats taken from Sofascore.