Barcelona’s undefeated run becomes undone by Athletic Bilbao
Barcelona’s undefeated run in La Liga has finally come to an end with Athletic Bilbao becoming the reason behind it. The La Liga champions experienced a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Bilbao on Sunday, which leaves them at equal points with second-placed Atletico Madrid.
Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino’s life has become very hard with criticism flying in from media and fans. Barcelona remain on top of the league at the end of another weekend, but their hopes of remaining their hang by just a thread since only a two-goal gap is keeping Atletico Madrid from replacing Barcelona at the top of the league table.
Real Madrid, Barcelona’s bitter rivals are positioned third and are now only three points away from toppling their traditional adversaries from the top of the table. Defeat to Bilbao was Barcelona’s second successive defeat, the first one coming in the Champions League at the hands of Ajax.
The defeat has set alarm bells ringing across Europe, but Martino has refused to strike the panic button. Martino admits Barcelona has been in a “negative” run of form, but the club is striving to produce better results.
“There is a lot of talk about results … this defeat makes things difficult but I must say I saw a good team, in the first half at least,” Martino told reporters. “This defeat has nothing to do with the game in Amsterdam. I think there was also a big moment in which the game could have changed massively with Neymar [when Ander Iturraspe brought down the Brazilian and was booked, not sent off].
“If I had to speak for the first 70 minutes, I'd say we played well. I saw a very good team. In the first half it was one of the best first-half performances from us this season. To me, there is nothing puzzling. It would be disconcerting if my team did not know what to do and I have not seen that today.
“I think they know what we need to do in games. But you are guided by results and the result is negative.”
Messi’s absence from Barcelona’s squad has become one of the major reasons behind their lack lustrous form. The in-form Argentinean hit-man has been the constant source of inspiration and success for Barcelona for the past five year. The four-time Ballon d’Or winner is expected to return to action after the January transfer window.