Athletic faced the flatter Barcelona that has passed through San Mamés in a long time. Only once did Valverde's team shoot at goal 95 minutes into the game, and with little danger. The version Light of the azulgrana team crashed against an opponent who had the best opportunities, who demanded the best version of Ter Stegen and that ended with ten for an unfair expulsion of Oscar de Marcos. The tie tightens the league a little, with Madrid to six points.
Athletic: Herrerín; De Marcos, Yeray, Íñigo Martínez, Balenciaga; Dani García, Beñat (San José, 56); Susaeta (Muniain, m.161), Raúl García, Yuri; and Williams (Kodro, m.88). Not used: Unai, Núñez, Ibai and Córdoba.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Lenglet (Vermaelen, m.86), Semedo; Rakitic, Busquets, Arturo Vidal (Aleñá, m 62); Messi, Luis Suárez and Coutinho (Dembélé, m.74). Not used: Peña, Murillo, Malcom and Boateng.
Referee: From the Cerro Grande. He dismissed De Marcos (91) as a double warning. He showed the yellow card to Dani García, Lenglet, Sergio Busquets and Yeray. VAR: Cuadro Fernández.
San Mamés. 47,557 spectators.
Ninety years later, an Athletic-Barça in San Mamés is still almost the same. There is no mud, nor do coaches smoke a cigar in the gallery. Nor is seen, for a long time, Barca Barcelona of all life. Now he plays in the Cathedral with gaudy and strange colors, but the passion is identical, as much as the difference between one team and the other is abysmal. The 5-1 of 1929 will be difficult to repeat, but not the intensity in the stands and in the field.
This Sunday was no exception, although Athletic found Barcelona too flat, with confusing ideas, which did not put pressure on the Bilbao team in a first part in which the area of Ter Stegen was the most punished. With Messi in maintenance mode, without finding answers in the orphan band of Jordi Alba, whenever he wanted to play it was by the middle, and there the well-ordered central athletes avoided leaks in their pipes. With the Cup in parentheses, the league more animated after the derby from Madrid, and the Champions League in telephoto eyesight, the Valverde team did not show its best version.
Who was closest to the goal was Athletic, especially in a Susaeta shot that looked for the squad and found the glove of Ter Stegen. Then it was Williams who left Piqué in evidence in a ride on the left that did not find an answer from his companions; and in minute 23, Raúl García had his in a Chilean that the Barça goalkeeper refused. Herrerín, meanwhile, was a spectator. The only time he felt close to Suarez was in a Messi center that the Uruguayan forward did not reach. Not once did Barcelona shoot at goal in the first 45 minutes, an unusual statistic that says a lot of what the Barça team taught.
However, in the second half, Athletic took a step back for several minutes. Or accelerated Messi, who knows. In San Mamés, Leo is sometimes whistled. And it is not an issue of animosity, because in general, everyone recognizes that the Argentine star is a player very respectful of the codes of the game and their rivals, very little prone to protest, simulation or cockiness. The whistles to Messi are usually a manifestation of the fear that causes in the stands. Dread. His presence on the turf is enough to stir the hearts of those outside Barça, and in the second quarter he accelerated enough to put his heart in a fist to the stands.
The entrance of Muniain
The Barça captain managed the game for a few minutes, but Athletic again took the pulse of the match and threatened the counterattack. Garitano moved some pieces. He put San Jose in the field, to contain, and Muniain, who came out inspired. The first had a shot from the front that came very close to the post; the second turned crazy to the azulgrana. In the 81st minute he produced the best chance for Athletic with a pass to Williams that Ter Stegen deflected with some catlike reflexes. The German goalkeeper told in an interview that San Mamés is the field that inspires him most to play. The muses flew over him all night.
Barcelona continued to create no real danger throughout the second half, nor in the discount, when he was with one more player for the unfair expulsion of Oscar De Marcos, in a ball that hit him in the shoulder when he was on his back. He did not know how to find an Athletic tickle. Only a shot without danger of Dembélé that ended up in the hands of Herrerín. As in the Camp Nou, Barça did not know how to win the Basque side.
Without Messi in his best version, Barcelona offered a poor image, unusual for a team that is a loose league leader. Athletic, for its part, adds a point, which does not take him out of his hardships but reaffirms his way of playing, a very different version since Garitano arrived.