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Jan 28, 2008

Athletic Bilbao vs BarcelonaBarcelona inherent lack of ability to kill the match off came back to haunt in the last quarter of the match against Bilbao. Courtesy of this draw they now find adrift of the champions by a huge nine points. Barcelona went into the match with their task really cut down - they need to win this and hope Villareal at least hold the champions. Neither did happen.

Barcelona started with the Deco, Xavi and Iniesta in the midfield. Did they paid the price of not having a tall Defensive Midfielder? I don't know even though they may be weak in defense because of that, these three should have provided more attacking stint. Deco was as usual very rusty. But the real surprise was Iniesta who had an average night and that showed in Barcelona's attacking chart. The game started really boring; it took quarter an hour for Barcelona to create a meaning full attack. Messi was the first to test the Bilbao Goalie in the 17th minute. Messi received a throw in and turned inside of his marker and shot only for the Goal keeper to save. In the 33rd minute Athletic Bilbao counter attacked from the left and the cross found Aduriz in the box, who suddenly found himself one on one with the Goal Keeper, but he shot too high. In the 35th minute Iniesta attempted a long through ball to Messi, Messi was beaten on the ball by athletic Goal Keeper but the scrambled away ball found Bojan who slotted the ball past the keeper into the far corner. Bojan did not have a very good night, but he is keeping up with his amazing strike rate in the Main division also.

Barcelona started the second half in the right fashion with their famed attacking line twice raiding the Bilbao goal led by Messi. The first attack saw Messi feeding Bojan, who actually struggled to control it but laid it to Henry who tried to find the far right corner, only to miss by a couple of inches. The second attack saw Messi dribbling up to the line in the box drawing a bunch of defenders along with him, he pulled the ball back to Deco who shot high. In the 56th minute Valdes was called upon to make a decent save off Javi Martinez after Xavi gave away the ball cheaply. Then in the 71st minute Iniesta found sylvinho down the left and his cross found Puyol but he defenders did well to deflect it wide. Then in the 79th minute Barcelona were made to rue all the missed chance as Thuram tried to get in front of Llorente only to deflect the ball into his own Goal. Thuram did not make much mistake in the night (apart from the own goal) but i though he was too slow. The best player on the pitch for Barcelona was Messi, who couldn't do too much - that explains Barcelona’s poor performance.

Henry had a very bad night and there is high chance he will be overlooked when Ronnie come next week. My suggestion is that Rijkaard can try Ezquerra down the left now maybe. Now the big question on every bodies mind will be - Can Barcelona overhaul the nine points lead? There is precisely two reasons why i would say its difficult.

1) Barcelona does not look like capable of winning all their away games.

2) Madrid looks like they are not in the mood to drop a single point now.

Barcelona needs lot of help from other clubs to come near Madrid. But there is not much club in La Liga which looks like will be able to cut down the resilient Madrid side. Anyhow we will hope that they will slip sometime and Barcelona more importantly will take advantage of that. I pray and Hope that the title will be decided when Barcelona will take on Madrid in Barnebeu. For that to happen Barcelona needs to put up so much work, and lady luck has to smile on them relentlessly.

Bojan Goal

Thuram Own Goal



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