At the press conference prior to the last training of the week, Valverde It was diaphanous: "If Messi is one hundred percent, he will surely play because it is a fundamental match." His word, however, was forgotten by stepping on San Mamés. "Well, maybe it's not one hundred percent, but it's very close," acknowledged his assistant, Ion Aspiazu, minutes before the duel began; "It's an important game and we have to put our best eleven". The 10, of course, left the game. Among other things because there is no patch that is worth to replace La Pulga, a sign of Barca. And less in a night in which the azulgrana team was all patches. As the left wing, occupied by Semedo, Vidal and Coutinho, all right-handers who were in the same lane for the first time in the course. Patches, in any case, that were enough for the team to draw at La Catedral. Merit also from Ter Stegen gloves.
Some time ago Valverde decided that Arthur was the rudder of the Barça in the axis of the field, the soccer player who kept the ball and put the pause. "He has to get used to playing everything", he escaped the coach when he explained his first muscle injury. But it was broken again, this time in the femoral biceps of the left leg, and there is no replacement that offers to maintain possession. And less Arturo Vidal, his antithesis, which picks up the witness by technical decision. In San Mamés, comfortable in the crash but awkward in the composition, he left the left wing. After two calamitous deliveries – Yuri almost scored in one of them -, Valverde ordered him to return to the right to fill the defensive void of Messi. It was a patch on the patch.
It happened that the technician had to invent more plasters, like putting Semedo in the left rearguard because Sunrise I was sanctioned. A bet that I already knew but that shows that there is no substitute because it does not have Miranda [el lateral no pudo jugar con el filial y se quedó en la grada de San Mamés]. Semedo, however, worked because since he gave his first assistance of the course (against Levante) he has taken the confidence that he lacked.
Trust is just what is lacking Coutinho, Valverde's biggest patch for a long time because he has played everything since Dembélé was injured, even if his numbers are rickety without going into value that is the most expensive signing in the history of the club (160 million). "I like it because it always faces, it's always brave", the technician defends him every chance he can. That he did again against Athletic, although the result was the same as in the last dates: neither fu nor fa. More or less what happened to Messi, who played at idle. "If he played, it's one hundred percent. But they made us very rigorous marks and that hurt our cons, "claimed Luis Suarez. This is what Valverde believes: "Leo is fine. If he plays, it's because he's convinced. "
But nobody hit the key to beat Athletic. "There was a lack of communication in the first time, like warning that one is alone, and it is something that we must correct. We also have many games and that can be noticed against a more rested opponent … ", said Suarez. "February is quite hard and it can be tired, yes," he added. Ter Stegen. "If you win, fatigue is passed and if not, it seems to be a handicap, but we do not want to put that excuse," Valverde replied.
With those ingredients and with a football very far from the original, Valverde took an hour to make a change. Aleñá by Vidal; touch for muscle. "When you do not win, you always aim for someone because you have not taken a couple of passes well. It seems that because he makes a change he is pointing to one and it is not like that, but that he had to do other things, "Valverde agreed. In the absence of a quarter of an hour, he made the second: Dembélé por Coutinho.
Little time for Barça to cope, with the exception of Ter Stegen, who with his hands gives points – he has stopped 30 of the last 34 shots that have been done to him -, as he expressed with the stops to Williams, Susaeta and Raúl García. "He has made a great stop and another one too, although in that he has gotten it first …", joked the Txingurri. "Ter Stegen is one of the best in the world. He showed it again, but that's what the goalkeeper is for, "he said. Luis Suárez. "He saved us, maybe without him, we would have conceded a goal," said Sergi Roberto. "I'm happy with my game, but I do not know if I've been the best on the team. I try to do my best for the team. In defense we are good lately, "replied Ter Stegen.
It was a draw for a Barça with more patches than applause. Rakitic, in any case, made it clear: "What we did so far is very good because we are above all."
Gaizka Garitano's plan only lacked a goal and left him the performance of Ter Stegen to make it perfect. The Athletic coach designed the match with 14 players. "If Iker Muniain has not been a starter, it's to be fresh for the last half hour," he argued. "We have been very good, happy with the point, but if we count the chances we could have won. Ter Stegen has been sensational. " The coach's words were endorsed by sports director Rafa Alkorta: "We were very good, solid, and we did enough to win. Maybe we were sinking in the second half and with the changes we cheered up. " The players agreed in the diagnosis with the technicians. "We must value that we leave Barça unmarked, one of the best teams in the world, which has more stuck," insisted Muniain. "And in the end for opportunities we deserved the win. We value the point a lot. " And Yeray closed: "We have given very good feelings because we are one, from the goalkeeper to the center forward. We closed well and we could score. "