La Liga: Athletic Bilbao 2-2 FC Barcelona: Player Ratings

Bilbao take the plaudits from the match last night

Victor Valdes                                     6.5

Considering the awful conditions Valdes coped well, but his performance was not up to the standard we have grown to expect from the Spaniard. His distribution was below par, and he could have done better with the corner that led to the second goal. Disappointing to see his clean sheet record end as well.

Dani Alves                                           6.5

Another sub-par performance. He did not offer much of a threat down the right-hand side, and was ineffectual in defense, especially up against Susaeta. I expected more from the Brazilian, even if the conditions were less than ideal.

Gerard Pique                                     7.5

He will not be the first nor last player to come off second best against Fernando Llorente, but again, Pep may have expected better. He clearly misses the influence of Carles Puyol and at times he displayed a tendency to dive into the tackle, leaving himself vulnerable as a result. That being said, he coped better than most would have.

Javier Mascherano                          5.5

He slipped for the first goal, and that much we can accept, but his pass back for the second was inexcusable. Wet, not wet, who cares? He should have never opted for the backpass on the half way line, and one can imagine that Carles Puyol would have played it safe. However, he did rip Llorente’s shirt towards the end which was rather comical.

Eric Abidal                                           6.5

In all honesty, the Frenchman was fairly anonymous in the match. He could not maraud forward as often as he would have with Muniain to mark and even then he could not subdue the lively teenager. With Adriano playing so well he needs to improve if he wishes to keep his starting berth. Great cross for Fabregas though.

Sergio Busquets                                               6.0

A man of his stature should be strong in possession and I never thought I would say this, but Pep should have picked Seydou Keita. Bullied by the Bilbao midfield he was not at anywhere near his best, and no surprises, Barcelona’s possession figure dropped. If Busquets could bulk up, he would certainly benefit.

Xavi                                                        7.0

Not the best game he has ever played and the conditions were a major factor. How can you pass the ball through a giant puddle and expect it to reach its target as normal? His long shots went close(ish) but he looked a little rusty after his break.

Andres Iniesta                                   6.5

Another that seemed off-colour after their break. He couldn’t dribble past opponents with the abysmal conditions and his passing was below par as well. He was played through by Messi on one instance, but did not get enough power into the shot. Hopefully it was just a minor blip for Iniesta.

Cesc Fabregas                                   7.5

This was one of the reasons Cesc was signed. His header was superb, but not only that, he could cope with the physical onslaught of the Bilbao players. I expected more from him towards the end with the game on the line, but he is still not 100% after his return from injury. More of the same please Cesc.

Lionel Messi                                       7.5

Aside from the goal, he was a little off-key. Isolated on the right-wing for large parts of the game he could not engineer too many chances, but that goal really saved our bacon. The team did become overly-reliant upon the Argentine though, and his willingness to take responsibility could be perceived as a weakness.

Adriano                                                                7.0

Despite his start on left-wing, he was better defensively. Providing cover against Iraola (as I predicted) he was lucky not to give away a penalty for his shirt pull. Adriano will be pushing for the left-back slot soon enough.

Substitutes:

Alexis Sanchez                                  6.0

After last week, and given the history between Bielsa and Sanchez, I was expecting a little more. Hopefully he will start soon, and only then can we truly judge him.

Thiago Alcantara                               7.0

Thiago certainly improved things with his arrival, but it was not difficult with so little to lose. He will be annoyed not to have reached the Spanish squad for the coming matches but it will allow him to showcase his abilities against Hospitalet.

David Villa                                           6.5

Slightly better from the striker. His shots were at least on target even if he was a little wasteful. A goal and start against Hospitalet could do him good. Failing that, he can always demolish England on Saturday!

 

The team                                             6.5

Say what you like about "fighting spirit" I tend to be pessimistic by nature, and therefore all I remember is the mistakes and lack of motivation. Rain or not, true fighting spirit would have won the Blaugrana that match. Upside is that the goals were born from mistakes rather than sheer ineptitude.

Marcelo Bielsa                                   9

Not perfect, but as close as most will get against Barcelona. His motivation techniques were spot on and the fluidity was almost Barcelona-esque. I was especially impressed by the work-rate he has managed to install, all without losing the physicality that the Basques are renowned for.

 

Barcelona’s away form has never been perfect, but it getting worrying. With the first Clasico taking place at the Bernaneu it has to improve, but if anyone can engineer a victory against Real Madrid it is Pep Guardiola.

 

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