Barça, pushed to their limit to tame Los Leones >> Culé Talk

Guardiola: ‘Barça put in one of the most brilliant defensive displays in memory in order to beat Bilbao. They took us to the limit of tension and effort. They forced us to put in a good effort to win the match. If you don’t play with intensity, they roll right over you’

Guardiola: ‘Athletic Bilbao doesn’t defend, they come for you. It’s completely different from Milan, it’s like night and day’

Guardiola: ‘We’ve missed Gerard Pique for the better part of the year. He’s back to his necessary playing form. He and Mascherano played a great game. Javier is an almost unimaginable signing. He’s the type of player that a manager wouldn’t trade for anything, and would never sell. He’s a unique signing, we’re very pleased to have him. I also want to highlight Adriano’s effort’

– Barça have beaten Athletic Bilbao in an intense, lively game in which both sides played some exquisite football. Our home side enjoyed most of the possession and also the chances, and eventually won through thanks to goals from Iniesta and Messi (penalty).

With the possible exception of a few more Barcelona goals, this game had everything a Barca fan would have wanted against a Bilbao side playing its second game in three days. It was a game over which Barcelona had almost total control and most of the possession.

However, the first goal did not arrive until just before half time. Ironically, the goal was scored on the counter attack after we forced a turnover in midfield. I was delighted that Iniesta, who is one of my favourite players, was the scorer. I often feel that he doesn’t score anywhere near the number of goals his ability demands.

The second half followed the same pattern as the first with Barcelona well on top throughout. Fortunately, the second goal eventually arrived after we received a somewhat soft penalty after a foul on Tello. We’ve certainly been denied several far more obvious penalties this season. Messi’s successful conversion ensured a comfortable victory where a minimum of energy was expended.

Individually, I thought Dani Alves was superb dominating the right side of the field, Messi again played at a level that only he can and Masche continued to show his class as he marshalled our defence.


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