Bilbao – Barcelona Liveblog

It’s a wonderful day for a liveblog. Bilbao is never a team to be taken lightly, so I expect this match to be a cracker. I know you don’t want to hear me prattle, so on to the lineups:

Starting XI: Valdes Alves Pique Mascherano Abidal Xavi Busquets Fabregas Adriano Messi Iniesta

Bench: Pinto, Puyol, Maxwell, Keita, Thiago, Sanchez, Villa


It’s good to see Sanchez on the bench again.


  1. For the first time this season Xavi, Iniesta and Cesc are playing together, something to behold!!!!

    1. BTW I was reading on sport(I think) that Villa has been suffering from a slight knock these past few weeks, might be from the amount of minutes he have played already(club & national) they are saying.

    1. its 2 points lost and not a point won.. the evil empire are now leading with 3 points

  2. No stoppage time in the first half. and barely any in the second.Well done 4th official 🙄

    Pretty good game, had to fight for the points.Pique was great till the autogol. Busi was good as well but could made more incisive passes. Still unbeaten in all competitions 8D .3 points behind EE 🙁

    1. It was a fucking shame, the stoppage time was way too short.
      In the first half, although 2 goals have been scored, no stoppage time at all.
      The 2nd half, lots of fouls, lots of substitutions, plus a goal scored during the stoppage time. In England, it would have been added to the recommended stoppage time, but the recommended stoppage time would also have been at least 4 min.
      Considering both halves, the total additional time should have been 6+ mins.
      Thanks, effing ref!

      I know the draw is not bad, but I’m still losing my temper about the ref. In Italy, 2 matches were postponed, I wonder if the pitch here was any better than in Napoli or Genoa.
      Also thanks David Villa for wasting another 2 chances, talking about the pass from Messi when Villa was on the left flank, but even more about the situation before that, where he received the ball, standing about 3 m behind the penalty spot, and kind a passed it to Iraizoz. Well done, Guaje!!!

    2. Villa looked good to me – held the ball well for the Sanchez overlap, great control and shot on the left side. Sure, it would’ve been nice had he scored one of those chances, but considering how abysmal Iniesta’s attempts were, I much prefer Villa’s!

    3. Keep in mind that Villa might’ve played through a niggle. No way was that first chance his fault. Iniesta missed an open net!

  3. So many wasted chances; Iniesta could have had at least a brace! But on the plus side, we snagged a point, Messi finally scored away from home, and TB isn’t top of the pichichi charts anymore!

  4. Best players in order:

    Pique 9/10
    Masche 8/10 (despite the goal)
    Xavi 7/10 (he was off why, again?)
    Sanchez 6/10
    Cesc 5/10 (dangerous, but pace not there)
    Abidal 5/10 (played well but a couple horror mistakes)
    Iniesta 4/10 (finishing is terrible right now)
    Adriano 4/10 (better than the blog comments)
    Busi 3/10 (fairly useless)
    Messi 2/10
    Alves 1/10 (really, really off today)

    Villa (not enough time)
    Thiago (I think he fell into a puddle)

    1. I can’t really blame us. The pitch was completely soggy and slippery. I remember having trouble walking (admittedly in flat shoes without studs) on a rainy muddy pitch in school, let alone dribbling or running with the ball. And passes just stopping midway and going which way.

      The pundits on my channel were reiterating how very well we played considering the circumstances. And suggested that the game should technically have been stopped, law of the game something to do with four rolls of the ball on the pitch or something which I didn’t catch.

    2. They toss a ball up, and if it bounces a certain number of times (prolly 4), only then the game is allowed to continue..

    3. It has to reach half of the height it was dropped from and if it does, the game can not be postponed. In the beginning the pitch was not waterlogged and I have no trouble imagining the ball did that.

      The problem is that as the game progressed, it became increasingly swampy, and it affected Barca’s game more and more – when the grass is so wet it makes the short quick passing impossible because the ball is either too fast or gets stuck in the water, or the players slip and the combinations break down as result. Also, less appreciated is the fact that pressing is much harder because when you try to get the ball from the other team you need to be able to do all of the following: 1) keep your balance at the moment you reach the player with the ball and stop running 2) be able to run fast to intercept passes 3) be able to be in position to intercept passes. 1) and 2) are very difficult for the players when conditions are so slippery, 3) is a problem because when the grass is wet passes become much faster and it is much harder to get in a position to intercept them in time. Granted, they also get stuck in the water from time to time but this does not help much when you can’t do much with the ball when it is there – Iniesta had a glorious chance around the 50th minute to score when a back pass from an Athletic defender got stuck in the water but he himself found it very difficult to get out of there quickly and with the ball in his feet o he went for the shot which didn’t come off either.

      All in all, that kind of conditions are much better for the team that defends and tries to destroy – all you need is to nudge the ball slightly and it goes several meters away. Too bad the title has to be decided by such factors.

    4. Well, I dare to say we would not have conceded either of the two goals on a proper pitch. Mascherano slipped before the first goal, and had to play a stupid backpass on the 2nd due to the condition of the pitch.

      There was also a situation where Iniesta spotted Messi’s run into free space, but his pass was a little bit overhit. Maybe he stroke it too hard in order to prevent it from getting stuck in a puddle.

      Anyway, 2-2 or not. For me a highly frustrating match. And if we continue to draw more than every third of our matches, if we continue to struggle so much away from home – good bye la Liga title!
      Only a back-toback CL triumph could console me then.

    5. That’s exactly what happened with that Iniesta pass and not only with it – Mascherano tried to lift the ball in the air with that backpass to avoid it getting stuck in the water and gift Bilbao a one-on-one with Valdes; and on numerous other occasions they were trying to account for the wet grass and ended up under- or overhitting the ball.

      Other than that I don’t think they were so off-form today as it may have looked and could have easily won this game if it weren’t for the pitch, but there is no point crying about it now, the distance is 3 points now and every game has to be won from here on.

    6. with all due respect.. these ratings are completely wrong.. pique’s distribution was way below par,he also tipped the ball in our net.. he doesnt deserve more than 2/10 (blame shakira).. cesc wasnt obviously calm enough to influence the game.. messi deserves a negative 2/10.. he touched the ball 8 times all game, and not once threatened bilbao (his goal aside).. xavi was no were to be seen all second half..

  5. Wow, haven’t felt that much adrenaline in a game for ages. I know this isn’t the most important goal since but I celebrated the equalizer more than anything since Stamford Bridge. Jumped up and down in the living room, hurt my foot, jumped up and down some more.

    Good point. Crucially, we’re only three points behind Madrid now so if we win the Clasico we’ll be top, assuming we keep up this difference.

    1. The equalizing goal at the Club World Cup final in the sextuple year was great too. It was yet another game where it felt like it just wasn’t gonna be our day.

  6. Not feeling the negativity right now. Yeah, we’re down, but I have enough faith in this team to believe it’s not going to stay that way. This is football, and crazy matches like this happen. I mean I’d like to see any team come out with a very different result from that game under those conditions. A draw is a good result I think.

    I don’t feel the need to slag off on any of our players either for the same reasons. Except for Piqué and Abidal on that awful awful awful own goal.

    I also went absolutely crazy on that equaliser. 🙂

    Força Barça!

  7. No point blaming Pique, that goal was all Abi’s fault. Weak clearance straight inside the melee – huge mistake at this level. Masche was trying to pass to VV but instead – oh boy..

    Thank goodness Athletic came up with a way to top that with their own comedy of errors at the end.

    This season is going to be a long one. I hope we fight our way through..

  8. Three points behind Madrid at this stage is really no big deal. 4 of their next 5 Liga games are Valencia (at Mestalla), Atletico, Barca and Sevilla. So they will drop points in this run. If they don’t, then they deserve to be champions I guess.

    The own goal was as much Valdes fault at Abidal’s. He could have easily come out for it. It’s right in his path.

    Can’t criticize the players at all. Athletic played brilliantly and it was a bloody swimming pool out there. Proud of the team.

    1. Their next 5 games imo are critical. Away to Gijon isn’t always easy, once we do our job and win till el classico we’ll be fine.

  9. you can’t really blame Piqué alone for that own goal..

    first of all, that was an unnecessary corner kick by Masch..
    and second, Abidal weak clearance..

    I’m proud with this result, that was hell of a match in a swimming pool.. 3 points means nothing in early November..

    but now more pressure on us to win at Bernabeu..

    1. Masch had a poor game for me, maybe it was the weather but he was partially responsible for both goals conceded. Can’t really blame him doh since he has been imperious all season long.

    2. Whoa, hang on there. A terrible pass by Valdes for Alves, who didn’t fight for it, unleashed the jailbreak. Mascherano had one chance to stop it, and missed the intercept. Garbage in, garbage out, right?

      On the second, only he knows why he didn’t just knock it into touch. Was easiest path. I just think he didn’t want to cede possession, and was probably figuring on the water having more of an effect on slowing down the ball than it did.

      Both conceded goals were a comedy of errors, frankly. As was our equalizer.

    3. Agreed on the pass, Kxevin, but he didn’t have to go to ground imo. When he recovered after his stumble he was still in position to shepherd the attacker down the outside giving the rest of the defence time.

      The second surprised me as defenders from England think nothing of playing the ball out in such situations. However, it wasn’t even accurate direction wise never mind weight.

      However, as you say, a comedy of errors and, for me, difficult to blame anyone on such a pitch.

  10. Our record in ‘big’ matches this season:

    vs Milan: 2-2
    .@ Valencia: 2-2
    vs Sevilla: 0-0
    .@ Athletic: 2-2

    We need some luck!

    (No, Atleti at home is always a stroll. Sorry Miguel)

    1. And looking at Sevilla right now, calling the home match vs Sevilla a big match is also an exaggeration.
      You can draw at Mestalla, you can draw at Athletic (especially under these conditions), the draw against Milan is irrelevant (at least from my point of view, we’ll have to win the round of 16, home or away match, against a first or 2nd-placed team anyway).
      But the home draw vs Sevilla, that might haunt us till the end of times…

    2. The home draw against Sevilla burned me to the core though. That and the NEEDLESS draw against Sociedad when we gifted them a way back in.

      I still think we are doing okay considering the injuries we’ve had, the non-preseason and the games we’ve had to play.

    3. All i know is that if im Ibra watching pique vs llorente 2nite, id be licking my lips at the prospects

    4. Ibra might be licking his lips watching Pique but that definitely wouldn’t be out of anything related to his play here and it’s suggestion for Milan.

      This was on a pitch where people couldn’t really be full-throttle in physical movements to not slip and passes just stopped. This was nothing like actual Barca, namely because we couldn’t pass at all cos of the rain. Most unrepresentative game you could find.

  11. I’m SO thankful for this draw. Bilbao is TOUGH..and that ground was a pool. I’m happy.

    The first half was intense..very great contest but then the second half got I suspected 🙁

    Whether we were 1 point our 3 points behind Madrid come Clasico we would still HAVE to win anyways. No excuses.

    I can’t and don’t blame anyone for this draw.I’m proud of the team. An unfortunate owngoal but we got a few breaks as well.

    1. 3 points behind EE will spur extra motivation for us heading to Classico. We MUST win there, and this team always perform great when it needed and crucial (big matches). Proud of our players!

  12. Can’t really blame the team in these circumstances. No team deserved to win/lose.
    But can we please have more wins and less awesome games? Since the 3-2 game vs Madrid all exciting games have ended in draws.
    Next games are vs Zaragoza and Levante at home and Getafe away. We really should win all of them and deal with the 3 point deficit in the Clasico.

  13. What a game!
    So much for ignorant EPL lovers calling La Liga uncompetitive.
    The conditions were always going to work for Bilbao. In fact They made sure even during half time that all the puddles and ponds were carefully preserved. Barca were visibly shaken with the burden of mathematically trying to figure out the best possible force with which to kick the ball for it to eventually reach the intended player. But a mad mad game it was, wasn’t it. Muniain is an absolute live wire and motm for me. Valdes in my opinion could have done better to better his record.

    oh yea, i went crazy too on that equalizer.
    guess we’re still unbeaten.
    and villa still can’t score.

    1. EPL fans better watch their own league first. Citeh are running away with a 5 pt lead and no one is able to stop them. And they call this league uncompetitive..

  14. Valencia and Atletico next for EE so will be very telling to see if Real is actually better this year if they come away with 2 wins. Please Valencia, do us a favor.

    1. They will take the 6 points, no question. Atletico has not won against them in ages and does not even try. And they put 6 behind Valencia last year, in the Mestella. These teams do not stand any chance at all

    2. Think so, too.

      The match vs RSSD was a tough one for Madrid, but THEY came out with a win. They certainly are some steps ahead of us right now, imo.
      We have not won ANY of the tough, complicated matches this season… *fear*

    3. Hehe, now that Atletico even lost to last-placed Getafe, playing 60 min with one man more on the pitch, and having initially taken the lead…
      do you still believe that Real Madrid might drop points against them at the Bernabow? 😀

  15. I thought the team played well. Couple of odd decisions though – Xavi sub/ Masche backpass and the result. Still thankful for the draw in these conditions.

    I don’t think we’ve ever been 3 pts behind EE in the Guardiola era. Add to that the first Clasico is AWAY. Granted they haven’t won against us in 3 years, but it still is their home ground. Hope we get into rhythm by them. Hopefully no FIFA virus too, this stretch is crucial..


    1. Think Xavi had a knock, hence the sub. The Mascherano backpass was weird. All I can figure is that he didn’t think it would fly across the quagmire like that.

      It even surprised VV, who I think he was playing it to.

    2. He intended to hit it to VV. No chance that he would’ve hit it out for a throw in. Still, the biggest culprit is Abidal, who completely scuffed that clearance. Anyone whose played enough foosball can’t really put the blame on the last man 🙂

      And if Masche hadn’t slipped early on, would we have seen that gem from Ander?

      Xavi has a knock? This day seems to be getting better and better.

      But in the end, those mistakes were cancelled out by the comedy at the Athletic end in stoppage time. We could easily have lost. Could’ve easily won if we’d taken our chances. Something EE are doing quite well now..

    3. Abidal is to blame but to be fair to him when the ball is so wet it is very easy to mishit the clearance when the ball is coming at you crossed from 35 meters away – it has almost no spin so if you don’t hit it in the middle, chances of it slipping off your foot are very high, which is what happened

  16. It is just so frustrating. This season we should be improving, instead we are regressing and regressing. We are already 3 points behind.

  17. We shouldn’t be too worried, folks. Keep in mind that they have played NONE of the tough teams that we have played yet. We’re also working through various injuries and bits of clunk. We’ll be fine eventually, I am sure of it, though we might have to do some hoping. But I doubt that EE are going to go through the Valencia/Sevilla/Bilbao stretch undefeated. It’s early, everything is in play and we aren’t even approaching our best form yet.

    1. They did last year, without breaking any sweat, so I would not put any hope on that games

    2. They’ll win against those teams but drop points against some other unexpected teams like Sporting or something. It’ll come. Too soon to be taking about Clasico IMO.

    3. Yes, they have.

      They already played at RSSD, which is also a Basque team. It’s a potential slip-up, just like Osasuna and Bilbao.
      We failed to beat both, RSSD and Bilbao. EE also had their problems, but they came out with a win against RSSD. ManUnited comes away with last-min. wins 10 times a season (at least last year, for instance). The problem I see with our team, we barely win such tough matches, and we almost never score a late winning goal. That’s a big minus for our team.

      And we should approach our best form ASAP, or at least a better form for the away matches. You can say ‘we aren’t even approaching …’ – but if one still says so in 3 months, the league will already be lost.

  18. Worst thing is that last season I was never afraid before big games because th team never did dissappoint in the big games, it was more the little teams where we did let off. This season we did not win one big game yet in the league or the CL, that is really worrying

    1. But keep in mind that this has been a very complex season with injuries and new systems. I’m taking a long view, and believing that when everyone is healthy and fully integrated, it’s going to be wonderful.

      We’re still undefeated, even if we have more draws than any of us would like. This is still the best team in the world. Never forget that.

  19. An exciting match which was severely impacted by weather. Ok with a point though.

    Overall the team played well considering the circumstances. This was a match where Keita might have been useful instead of Busi, especially because of the pitch.

    Both the goals we gave away were preventable but thats football sometimes. Masch has had better games for sure.

    Our entire team played well for me. Messi was good too. I think he was the most dangerous player we had. Also he laid more then few good chances and scored equalizer. Iniesta on other hand was clunky for me. If only he had a better shot, our team could be really divine.

    1. You sure about Keita? According to some he already is responsible for the market crash, global warming and a few wars..

    2. Sorry guys but we can’t have it both ways…we can’t say La Liga should be viewed as as competitive as the EPL and then complain about some rain.

      Of course the rain hurt us more than the opponent (that would the same for a ManU, City, or Chelsea) but they came out playing phenomenal, even if we were playing on concrete. They probably earned this draw but still doesn’t mean we played up to our potential.

      Trust is Barca. Sanchez is back. All is good.

    3. You can note the monsoon conditions without complaining about it. Once they decided to play the match, it was on. They played great, we could have played a lot better. And that was that.

      But you can say that a knee injury hampered a player’s effectiveness without actually “complaining” about said injury.

    4. I don’t disagree with you, my point is then we have to concede that the EPL has to be viewed as more competitive. It rains all the time and is much more physical, both which are big drains on the more talented teams. All Barca usually has to deal with is alot of studs on heels.

    5. no use debating which is better EPL or la liga.. barca lost 2 points today.. which means we are heading for the classico with nothing but a win as an objective.. it is going to be a tough season.. and real madrid are not making our job any easier with performances such as against osasuna.. pep should and surely will start correcting.. lately we havent been able to impose our style on the game.. lets hope that luck will be on our side in the next couple of months and madrid slip a bit so we can take advantage.. IN PEP WE TRUST

    6. And statistically, the EPL is in fact NOT more competitive. A sports analyst (for the Guardian, I believe) did an analysis of the top leagues and found that La Liga was second. Yes, I’ve forgotten who was first. And the Prem was toward the bottom.

      Yes there are lies, damned lies and statistics, but still. 😀

    7. Kxevin,

      Thoughts on a Nilmar article this week? Really interested to see BFB take on what it means in terms of their line-up, who they make give up to manage payroll, tactics, etc.

    8. Just the fact that you have 4-5 teams that could win the league vs. 2 makes any argument like that bs, in my opinion. I love Spain, I love La Liga, I don’t really watch much EPL, but this there is simply no defensible argument that has competition at parity within those two leagues.

    9. 4-5 teams? Last I checked United have won 12 out of 19 possible English Premier Leagues. Every few years they get a new contender (Arsenal then Chelsea and now City. And never ever was it a 3 horse race let alone a 4-5 team race.
      Let’s not repeat words EPL-heads say to themselves so they feel beteer when we thrash them.

    10. If you don’t watch much of the PL, how can you so quickly negate the stats that show that it isn’t as competitive as it seems?

      Even the commentators fall prey to the stereotype – Chelsea/United/City destroying teams 7-0 is a show of strength, yet when Barca does it to Osasuna or Almeria it’s a horrible display of Barca’s opponents “giving up before kickoff.”

    11. Let’s put it this way, shall we put up our money? ….how about we take the #3-7 teams in both leagues and have them play each other 50 times over. The league that wins more has more competition.

      Sounds like you are taking Valencia, Levante, Sevilla, Espanyol, and Rayo Vallecano (yes, RV) to handily take care of Chelsea, Tottenham, Newcastle, Liverpool, and Arsenal.

      Good luck to you sir.

      Barcelona is the best team in the world. The EPL has great teams @7-8 deep. La Liga, in a good year, perhaps 4, 5 max…arguably 2 this year.

      Quite honestly I’m a bit surprised this is even up for debate, even amongst Barca’s finest fans.

    12. You seem to forget teams like Valenica drawing with United at Old Trafford and losing by a last min goal at the Mestalla last year and drawing vs Chelsea this year.
      Or the year before Atletico Madrid beating Liverpool and Fulham to win the Europa League.
      I’m not saying that the EPL doesn’t have it’s strong points but it’s not as competitive as the English think it is.

  20. Bilbao’s first goal came after mascherano fell, their second was due to a pique mistake which also was a result of the slippery ball.. barca were not able to dictate play as they usually do.. there was no system, no short passes, no tiki taka.. we were simply denied our right of owning the midfield, add to that bilbao’s physical game, whenever a player was able to make run on the bilbao defence they immediately fouled the player.. all in al the game was a mess.. pep will surely learn and correct

    1. They sure did – and not many cards to back them up. Spanish TV has gone crazy tonight showing Adriano holding back Martinez and Masch on Llorente, but nothing of the Bilbao fouls.

  21. At least Barça isn’t Atleti. They lose to a ten man, 20th place, Getafe. My devotion to Atlético is unshaken, though. I need a little dose of chaos in my footy I don’t really get from the Blaugrana.

  22. Don’t we, in the Guardiola era, usually go into the clasicos being behind Madrid, just so we can get ahead of them? No worries.

    1. yes, but now we really need to make sure we won’t drop any points before El Clasico.. 3 games left before a trip to Evil Ground :

      Barcelona vs Real Zaragoza
      Burger King vs Barcelona
      Barcelona vs Levante (!)

      if we can get 9 points clear and hopefully snatch a win at Bernahpoo, then all is well again.

  23. But I doubt that EE are going to go through the Valencia/Sevilla/Bilbao stretch undefeated.

    you said exactly the same thing at the end of last season, Kxevin.
    cause you saw how we fought our title to death at Mestalla and Pizjuan.

    but EE put SIX (!) goals at Mestalla (0-4 before HT) and Pizjuan (1-4 before HT) just for the lulz 😆

  24. I’m gonna do the unpopular thing here and question Pep’s logic. Wasn’t happy with the line up, having Adriano up front. Not sure what Pep was thinking or what he was going after. Adriano was ineffective on the wing, even though most of the game he wasn’t really on the wing but playing defensively, towards the middle. He added very little to the offense. Secondly, the Xavi substitution was dumbfounding, unless he was hurt (and I haven’t read that he was). He was controlling the midfield. Feeding balls to Cesc, Messi, Iniesta all night. If Pep wanted to add more offense, then sub Adriano for Villa and let Xavi continue to feed ball forward. Finally, the ref IMO needed to show a red on shirt pulling. Obviously this was Bilbao’s tactic and it worked. Ref’s seem less inclined to card for shirt pulling than a dangerous kick or tackling probably because it “looks less threatening”, but at the end of the day, it’s stops the flow of play just as effectively. I hope other teams don’t catch on.
    All in all, the team played as well as it could with the field conditions. On days like these, luck being on your side is a big part of winning or losing.

  25. Guardiola: “It’s been a great match, I can just congratulate Athletic. Seldom can I be more proud of my players than I am today.”

    Guardiola: “How can we not be satisfied after what the 22 players have given us?”

    Guardiola: “I told Bielsa that his players are beasts. I never played against such an intense team, players that runs so much.”

  26. Kinda figured we’d tie. Dangit!
    But that was one exiting game of water polo!
    One more duck broken by Messi. Two actually: first league away goal and first at San Mames.
    We don’t play well in a swamp nor in high grass so I expect Mou to plant a rain forest on the Bernabe-ewww pitch for the first clasico.
    Own goal credited to Pique but I blame Mascherano, VV, and Abi more.
    Really, a point’s not that bad considering.
    I don’t think that Messi played as poorly as some have said.

    Still love my team.
    Pintxos anyone?

    1. We don’t play well in a swamp nor in high grass so I expect Mou to plant a rain forest on the Bernabe-ewww pitch for the first clasico.

      or they will do some rain dance (to invoke a heavy rain) on their high grass pitch before the game..
      wanna bet? 😀

  27. Wow I thought it was a firecracker of a match on that soggy pitch. And even though the EE goleada has thrown a wet blanket on our Liga standing, wasn’t it fun to watch a game as hotly contested as ours? There were spills, thrills … and the crowd stayed put and then stood up to applaud through the Basque autumn chill. Fabregas was not fab, but never took his cleat off the gas … and Llorente made our backline look a mess until Messi made everyone llorar. And the post-match team huddles and opponent cuddles warmed my inner hearth. Everyone played with heart.

  28. a stat :
    we only dropped 5 points last season, until 12 February 2011.

    6 November 2011, we already dropped 8 points (4 of them against RSD and Sevilla, which should’ve been avoided)

    besides injuries and a bad pre season, is heavy rotation and irregular starting XI also caused these results and Pep should stop doing it?

    on paper, rotation is great, but the results were better last season, at least in the league.

  29. I am not expecting Madrid to drop points at all vs. the big teams because they never do. The only drop points when you least expected it.

    I also felt that we lack the grit this year to grind out wins. Was really happy with the equalizer though. At least it showed some spirit.

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