Barcelona players react to La Liga victory against Athletic Bilbao

Iniesta, Rakitic, Ter Stegen and others reacted to the hard-fought win at San Mamés on social media

Barcelona had a very tough match against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, but left the Basque Country on top of La Liga after a hard-fough 1-0 victory, with Ivan Rakitic scoring the game-winner in the first half.

Plenty of Blaugrana players reacted to the victory on social media.

We start with Man of the Match Rakitic, who tweeted a locker room photo (which is always tricky, but this one’s safe) with his teammates after the game:

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Barça captain Andrés Iniesta missed the match through injury but was obviously watching the game and was very happy with the result:

“Great victory and great job!!! Força Barça!!!

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Marc-André ter Stegen made his first start as Barça’s undisputed keeper, and after a very impressive performance, he was certainly happy:

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Ter Stegen’s backup and new Barça goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen also reacted to the victory, and he sure loves emojis!

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Now we move into the kids. Sergi Roberto, Denis Suarez and Rafinha Alcântara all played important parts in the game, and they also took to Twitter to talk about it:

“Always a tough match in this ground, but a great game from the entire team!! Moving on!! Força Barça!!

“Important three points!! And happy to be back. Visca el Barça!”

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Luis Enrique also spoke about the victory, but he’s an older fella, so instead of social media, he used a microphone to praise his side on getting a very tough victory, but he knows there is room for improvement in the upcoming matches. Lucho is also very impressed with the competitive spirit shown by the team, even the new signings:

“It took a lot of merit to get those three points: We had to make a massive physical effort. Athletic is a team that creates very deep pressure, and they generate a lot of it, and that’s what caused us to make some early errors. But once we had worked out how to deal with that pressure, we started creating plenty of goalscoring chances.

“We were finding it difficult to get the ball into the opposition’s half, but we were more in control of things in the second half, although it was them who created most pressure towards the end.

“It’s an invigorating result. It’s very hard to play at San Mamés, so we’re really pleased with the outcome.”

“I’d have liked us to have controlled the game better, but they were doing well with long balls and it took a lot out of us physically. We read the game well, although we really should have sentenced the match earlier. But we have a great squad. They truly do want to compete for everything.”

Source: FCBarcelona.com

Athletic Club 0-1 FC Barcelona: Arda stay on fire, as FCB gets tough road win

In this column, Xoel Càrdenas breaks down FC Barcelona’s 1-0 win over Athletic Club Bilbao at the San Mamés on Sunday night. Xoel talks about Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Arda Turan and Sergi Roberto.

FC Barcelona grabbed three of the toughest points the team will earn on Sunday with a 1-0 win over Athletic Club Bilbao at the San Mamés.

Ivan Rakitić grabbed the lone goal of the night in the 21st minute, as a lovely cross into the box by Arda Turan was headed in by the Croatian to make it 1-0.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>That&#39;s a coach&#39;s goal says <a href=”https://twitter.com/RayHudson”>@RayHudson</a> on <a href=”https://twitter.com/ivanrakitic”>@ivanrakitic</a> header <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/beINLaLiga?src=hash”>#beINLaLiga</a> <a href=”https://t.co/37K45RsL2O”>https://t.co/37K45RsL2O</a></p>&mdash; beIN SPORTS USA (@beINSPORTSUSA) <a href=”https://twitter.com/beINSPORTSUSA/status/769971877485895680″>August 28, 2016</a></blockquote>

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Luis Suarez had a few chances to increase the lead, but his finish was just not there on the night. Athletic Club continued to press throughout the match, causing a few concerns for Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Lionel Messi had a solid match, as he frustrated Bilbao with his great passes and midfield control.

Beñat nearly had the equalizer in the 86th minute, but his free kick went just right of the near post.

Luis Suarez had a chance to make it 2-0 in stoppage time, but a Bilbao defender was there to make the stop on the goal line.

San Mamés is always a tough place for an opponent to win at. On Sunday, FC Barcelona earned the three points win a gritty, physical win on the road.

FT: Athletic Club 0-1 FC Barcelona

Xoel’s Thoughts

Overall, I felt FC Barcelona played well. Was it pretty? No. A match at the San Mamés is never pretty, but these matches and wins that give a team character as well as build confidence for the long season.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen had a good match, overall, against Bilbao. But there were a few mistakes in the game, including a poor pass out which led to Beñat’s shot at MAtS from close range in the 12th minute.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Ter Stegen&#39;s brilliant save earlier. <a href=”https://t.co/p3aUyM0xSZ”>pic.twitter.com/p3aUyM0xSZ</a></p>&mdash; Leo Messi (@messi10stats) <a href=”https://twitter.com/messi10stats/status/769972513426313216″>August 28, 2016</a></blockquote>

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MAtS had to make many, many passes on the night. In fact, Ter Stegen became the first goalkeeper to have completed more than 50 passes in a Liga match since the 2005-06 season.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Ter Stegen became the 1st GK completed more than 50 passes in La Liga since the season 2005/2006. <a href=”https://t.co/vIy5h6m7E7″>pic.twitter.com/vIy5h6m7E7</a></p>&mdash; The Catalan Giant (@TheCataIanGiant) <a href=”https://twitter.com/TheCataIanGiant/status/769991867433910272″>August 28, 2016</a></blockquote>

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Ter Stegen will be just fine. Sure, he had a few hiccups, but overall, MAtS got the shutout and that’s all that truly matters.

Sergi Roberto continues to prove he’s confidently the team’s right back. Sergi’s runs and passes were spot on, allowing Messi and Luis Suarez to make runs on the right side. Ivan Rakitić had the lone goal and several key passes against Bilbao.

For me, the man of the match was Arda Turan. The Turk continues to shine at the left wing position. No other player in La Liga has been involved in more goals than Arda (3 goals, 3 assists in all competitions). Against Bilbao, Turan was at his best. His passes were on the mark, his playmaking instincts were there, and when the moment came, he was ready to change the game with one play.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”tr” dir=”ltr”>Bugünkü galibiyet sonrası Arda Turan ve Luis Suarez&#39;den selfie <a href=”https://twitter.com/ArdaTuran”>@ArdaTuran</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/LuisSuarez9″>@LuisSuarez9</a> <a href=”https://t.co/8h19ixhCuz”>pic.twitter.com/8h19ixhCuz</a></p>&mdash; BabaSpor (@Baba_Spor) <a href=”https://twitter.com/Baba_Spor/status/770006954706104321″>August 28, 2016</a></blockquote>

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With Neymar and Andrés Iniesta returning to the team, Arda will be relegated to the bench. Turan is on fire and it is a shame he’ll go back to the bench. Let’s see how Neymar plays returning from the Olympics.

If I’m Luis Enrique, I won’t hesitate putting Arda Turan into a match in place of Neymar. Left wing is the Brazilian’s spot, but when you have a player who’s this hot in Arda, it’s tough to keep said hot player on the bench for too long. Plus, it’d be wise to ease in Neymar back to the starting XI. Don’t be shocked if Neymar does not play a full 90 minutes next match for FC Barcelona.

Arda Turan at LW has been on fire, and my hope is that Lucho finds a balanced way to keep him hot with sufficient playing time — preferably at LW.

The international break is here, and let’s hope the injury bug doesn’t bite any Blaugrana player.

One of the toughest road matches all season ends with a win. Two matches in the La Liga season, two wins for FC Barcelona.

A solid start to defending the championship.

Som-hi!

Xoel

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Athletic Bilbao 0-1 Barcelona, 2016 La Liga: Match Review

A detailed recap of Barça’s first away trip of the 16/17 season, a tough road victory at San Mamés

After a convincing 6-2 win to start the season, Barcelona started their away season with one of the hardest trips in the league. The San Mamés has been a stadium of mixed fortune for Barcelona in the past but the sides’ last meeting saw Barcelona walk away with a 2-1 win.

Athletic Bilbao Barcelona
Possession 37% 63%
Total Shots 9 11
Shots on Target 4 8
Corners 4 4
Fouls 20 13
Offsides 1 6
Yellow Cards 5 4
Red Cards 0 0

With the rain pouring, the game got underway and before long Barcelona had the ball in the net. Lionel Messi found Luis Suárez loitering on the left of the box. The Uruguayan controlled the ball then slid it across for an Arda Turan tap-in. However, Suárez was flagged offside and the goal was ruled out.

It was the home side that was enjoying the lion share of possession. Pinning Barcelona in their half, they were effective in disconnecting Barça’s front three from the rest of the team. With the increased pressure from Bilbao it was looking like a counter attack would be Barça’s most effective attack method. Messi continued to look to break away but the persistent rain fall had made getting any pace behind the ball difficult.

One of Atheltic’s game plans was to look at getting at Marc-André ter Stegen. The keeper was seeing an increasing amount of the ball due to Bilbao’s high pressure and the Basques were hoping that would lead to an error. That plan came to fruition when in the 12th minute ter Stegen gifted the ball to Beñat Etxebarria. However the midfielder chose to power the ball to goal rather than place it and the keeper managed to block the effort.

Arda Turan was continuing his good start to the season and it was through him that Barcelona got the opening goal. Messi rolled the ball to Arda on the edge of the box. The Turkish player burst into the box then cut back to get the ball on his right foot. He looked up then floated the ball to the back post to find a free Ivan Rakitić. The Croatian had timed his run perfectly and rose to head the ball into the net.

Turan’s continued form now poses a question of what happens when Neymar returns? Obviously you expect the Brazilian to reclaim his starting position but does that mean Turan joins the midfield three? Or is he to return to the bench?

Another player who has been impressing this season is Denis Suárez. Here, he was regularly picking up the ball and driving towards the Bilbao box. He did manage to get two shots away but they were tame efforts.

The poor conditions had slowed the tempo of the game and was making life harder for the two keepers. Ter Stegen’s final test of the half was to stop an attempt from Benat which he did well by catching it low to the floor.

The referee blew the whistle for half time which gave the players a welcome chance to change into dry shirts.

After the break, Barcelona looked to press home their advantage. The possession pendulum had swung into Barça’s favour and they were looking to capitalise on it. Lionel Messi wiggled his way into having a shot which was inches wide while Luis Suárez attempted a volley which sailed over. The latter was having an out of sorts game as nothing was really coming off for him.

As the second half continued, Athletic Bilbao grew back into the game which made Luis Enrique even more agitated on the sidelines. All too aware that a Bilbao goal could come at any minute and nullify his one goal lead, Enrique elected to reinforce his back line with the introduction of Javier Mascherano and Andre Gomes.

The game simmered along with Barcelona creeping towards the three points but sensing a late Bilbao attack would be coming.

One of the final scares of the game came in the 85th minute when Benat, who had been a good performer all night, stepped up for a free kick. With the angle it was taken at, you can understand why half of the home crowd and thought he had pulled them level. But, unfortunately for those fans, it was just wide.

Barcelona did manage to hang on for the win and maintain their 100% record in time for the international break.

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Athletic Bilbao vs Barcelona, 2016 La Liga: Final Score 0-1 as Barça win on the road

Tough game, tough win, vital win

Barcelona have got six points from two games and are the leaders of La Liga heading into the international break after a tough 0-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao at San Mamés, thanks to goals from, with scoring for Bilbao. The game was as difficult as usual, but the Blaugrana were better and overcame the atmosphere and the opponent to leave the Basque Country at the top of the table.

FIRST HALF

Before I got into what happened in the first half, a quick note on referee Mateu Lahoz, who ignored a clear penalty for Barça before inventing a foul he didn’t even see and booking Busquets and Luis Suarez: it’s not a surprise.

Anyway, the first half was amazing. Both teams were intense, defended well and were dangerous with the ball. Athletic pressed high up the pitch during all 45 minutes, but keeper Ter Stegen dealt well with the pressure and his distribution was fantastic, as usual. When Barça did escape the pressing, they created great chances on the counter, and Ivan Rakitic took advantage of a fast break and scored the opener with a header from a great Arda Turan cross. Arda himself had a golden chance just before halftime, but missed the shot and couldn’t double the lead for the Blaugrana.

At the half, a highly entertaining football match, and Barça led thanks to their talents and sound gameplan to deal with Bilbao’s intensity.

SECOND HALF

The second half started just like the first, with Bilbao pressing high and Barça patiently using possession to escape the pressure and counter attack with pace. Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez had very good chances on the fast break, but couldn’t find the back of the net.

Athletic made changes to become more offensive and try to find the equalizer. Raul García was one of the substitutes, and he nearly scored with a great shot that went just wide. Iñaki Williams almost found the goal in the very next play, and Bilbao were more dangerous in the second half.

Barça needed a goal to kill the game, but they couldn’t and very nearly conceded the equalizer when Beñat played a fantastic free-kick to the top corner, but the ball went just wide of the post. Bilbao continued to pressure and the game was nervous until the final whistle.

In the end, a very tough game that Barça survived by playing good football, a deserved victory and the league lead going into the international break. Perfect plan.


Athletic: Iraizoz | De Marcos, Bóveda, Laporte, Balenziaga | Iturraspe (Vesga), Beñat | Williams, Eraso (García), Susaeta (Muniain) | Aduriz

Barcelona: Ter Stegen | Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti (Mascherano), Alba | Busquets, Rakitic, Denis (Gomes) | Messi, Suárez, Arda (Rafinha)

Goal: Rakitic (21′)

WATCH: Ivan Rakitic’s powerful header finishes off brilliant team goal vs. Athletic Bilbao

Beauty

Barcelona have a 1-0 lead over Athletic Bilbao 20 minutes into their La Liga clash after Ivan Rakitic opened the scoring with a poweful header. The goal came off of a beautiful passing sequence that ended with Arda Turan finding the Croatian at the far post for the header:

via r/Soccer

While the end product will get the plaudits, the credit should go to Luis Suarez and Sergio Busquets for their great passing and movement in the midfield to open up space and create the chance. It was typical Barca brilliance and it result in the typical finish. The ball in the net and Barcelona celebrating yet another fine goal.

Athletic Bilbao vs Barcelona, 2016 La Liga: Confirmed Lineups, Live Game Thread

Live thread with confirmed lineups for Barcelona’s La Liga match against Athletic Bilbao

La Liga: Jornada 2
San Mamés, Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain
Kickoff: Sunday, 28 August 2016, 20:15 CET
Referee: Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz

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Starting Lineups

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Barcelona:1. Marc-Andre ter Stegen; 20. Sergi Roberto, 3. Gerard Pique, 23. Samuel Umtiti, 18. Jordi Alba; 5. Sergio Busquets, 4. Ivan Rakitić, 6. Denis Suarez; 10. Lionel Messi, 9. Luis Suarez, 7. Arda Turan

Substitutes: 25. Jordi Masip, 19. Lucas Digne, 22. Aleix Vidal, 14. Javier Mascherano, 12. Rafinha, 21. Andre Gomes, 17. Munir El Haddadi

Coach: Luis Enrique

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Athletic Bilbao: 1. Gorka Iraizoz; 18. Óscar de Marcos, 2. Eneko Bóveda, 4. Aymeric Laporte, 24. Mikel Balenziaga; 7. Beñat Etxebarria, 8. Ander Iturraspe, 5. Javier Eraso; 14. Markel Susaeta, 20. Aritz Aduriz, 11. Iñaki Williams

Substitutes: 26. Kepa Arrizabalaga, 16. Xabier Etxeita, 15. Iñigo Lekue, 12. Mikel Vesga, 22. Raúl García. 10. Iker Muniain, 19. Sabin Merino

Coach: Ernesto Valverde

Athletic Bilbao vs Barcelona live stream: Start time, TV listings, how to watch La Liga online

The Blaugranes look to win a second straight league game

The race for the La Liga title is already a two-horse one. After two disappointing games ending in a draw, Atlético Madrid do not look strong enough to compete this season, which means it’s Real Madrid and Barcelona fighting for the league trophy once again.

Los Blancos won their first two games, and Barça hope to do the same when they travel to San Mamés for a historically difficult match against Athletic Bilbao. After a sensational 6-2 victory in the season opener against Real Betis, the Blaugrana look to carry their momentum into a tough game and leave the Basque Country with a win.

Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez were fantastic last week, and need to be at the top of their game again to get past the challenge of an Athletic side that will make things hard for the two Barça superstars. This will be a really good match, and you cannot miss it.


Date/Time: Sunday, August 28, 2016, 8:15pm local time (CET), 7:15pm BST (UK), 2:15pm ET, 11:15am ET (US), 11:45pm IST (India)

Venue: San Mamés, Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain

Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz

On TV: beIN SPORTS (US & Canada), beIN SPORTS En Español (US & Canada – Spanish), Sky Sports 1 (UK), Sony Six HD (India), Movistar+, Canal+ Partidazo (Spain), elsewhere

Online streaming: beIN SPORTS Connect (US & Canada), FuboTV (US, monthly subscription, click here to sign up), Sky GO (UK), elsewhere

(Listings via LiveSoccerTV)

La Liga News: 28 August 2016: Real Madrid Move Top, Atletico Stumble Again

Alvaro Morata scored his first goal since returning to Real Madrid as he helped his team beat a stubborn Celta Vigo side and go top of La Liga. Morata, who rejoined Real in June after a two-year spell at Juventus, finished after Celta Vigo goalkeeper Sergio had parried Marco Asensio’s attempted chip.

Diego Simeone has called for patience after Atletico Madrid drew their second straight match of the new La Liga campaign, 0-0 away at newly-promoted Leganes. After dropping points in a 1-1 draw at home against Alaves in the first week of the season, Los Rojiblancos once again failed to fire against relegation-favourites Leganes.

Atletico Madrid’s stuttering start to the 2016-17 La Liga season continued with a 0-0 draw at promoted Leganes on Saturday in spite of Antoine Griezmann’s return. The visitors only had to make a short trip south to Leganes but again they were a world away from their usual standard, following up last week’s Alaves stalemate with a similarly underwhelming result.

After having won just one league title in the last eight years, Real Madrid’s former striker Fernando Morientes believes wrestling the crown back from rivals Barcelona must be Los Blancos’ main objective for the current campaign. Although securing the same will be far from easy, La Liga remains the bread and butter for Spanish top flight clubs, particularly the top two or three teams in the division.

Valencia fall against Eibar for second consecutive defeat – Yahoo Sports Canada

Elsewhere, Valencia slumped to a second consecutive loss after falling at Eibar 1-0, while Real Sociedad got on track by winning at Osasuna 2-0. Valencia’s latest defeat comes with the club close to selling Germany defender Shkodran Mustafi to Arsenal, and Barcelona negotiating to sign away striker Paco Alcacer. Neither player was on Valencia’s team at Eibar.

FC Barcelona News: 28 August 2016: Alcacer Transfer Moves Closer, Enrique Comments On San Mames

It’s no secret that FC Barcelona’s Week 2 La Liga match at Athletic Club Bilbao on Sunday night presents a sizeable, early-season challenge. But despite the overtly ominous warnings, the Barça coach said he loved Athletic Club. “It won’t be easy,” he said. “Not now. Not ever. And my players know that,” he continued. But, he said, “professional footballers love playing in places like that.”

The Spain international was left out of the squad as Valencia suffered a 1-0 loss at Eibar to continue their slow start to the season. “It means he was not now in the best position to compete,” Ayestaran told a news conference. “We will see what will happen in the next few days.” Valencia are bottom of LaLiga after two losses to start their campaign and further departures are expected at the club.

FC Barcelona have signed Jasper Cillessen as a replacement goalkeeper for Claudio Bravo, who has left for Manchester City. Signed from Ajax, the 27-year-old international from Nijmegen is the second Dutch keeper to play for the first team, following on from Ruud Hesp, who was at the club from 1997 to 2000.

Newcastle United striker Ayoze Perez feels flattered by reported Barcelona interest, but insists he has not thought about leaving the Magpies. Following Newcastle’s relegation, several important players left his current club, but Perez pledged his loyalty to the Magpies, believing it’s the right decision for his career. “I have always been happy ever since I came here,” Perez told The Telegraph.

Gabigol has returned to Brazil, as Santos haven’t yet decided if he’ll join Inter now or in January, while Joao Mario undergoes a medical. The Nerazzurri welcomed two new stars yesterday for a total expenditure of over €70m, though the transfers have not yet been completed. According to Sky Sport Italia, Gabriel Barbosa – commonly known as Gabigol – has flown back to Brazil after passing his medical and discussing personal terms.

La Liga: Athletic Bilbao vs FC Barcelona: Predict the Score

A chance for you to predict the score of tonight’s La Liga clash between Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona

With an emphatic 6-2 win over Real Betis last Saturday, FC Barcelona immediately returned to the top of the table, and they will be hoping to reclaim top spot again tonight with a victory against Athletic Bilbao at San Mames. With their narrow win over Celta Vigo at the Santiago Bernabeu last night, Real Madrid claimed temporary control at the top of the table, although any win would see the Blaugrana move back into pole position on goal difference.

Naturally, no-one in the Barca Blaugranes community was able to correctly predict our opening night thrashing, which means that you too have a chance to move atop the community rankings with a correct prediction tonight. Matches against Athletic Bilbao are always tough, physical and emotionally draining encounters; a trip to San Mames merely accentuates that — and if last season is any indication, we could be in for an extremely difficult night.

Last August we travelled to the Basque Country for the Spanish Super Cup, and were emphatically beaten 4-0. The corresponding La Liga fixture ended a little better, as the visitors escaped with a narrow 1-0 victory, even after Lionel Messi had missed a penalty. Bearing in mind that we will be missing our club captain, Andres Iniesta, and one of our talismanic forwards, Neymar, one would expect a similarly stern examination this evening.

Are you backing our boys to maintain their 100% record, or do you think we struggle again on our latest trip to the Basque Country? Predict the score by leaving a comment below. Best of luck!