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Deportivo La Coruña
1 December 2013
• San Mamés Barria, Bilbao
Referee: Juan Martínez Munuera
• Attendance: 35950
It's been a wild ride folks, thanks for joining me. See you next time.
Have the wheels come off without Messi in the driver's seat? Barca have slumped to back to back defeats, and in truth, they deserved little else from this game. Athletic out-hustled them to every ball, created more of the danger, and fully warrant this win. They remain unbeaten in their new stadium this season.
90' + 4'
THAT"S IT! A FAMOUS WIN FOR BILBAO!
90' + 3'
Ibai wastes a great chance to milk the clock or push for a second running towards goal from the right then blasting the ball into orbit, on what could have been a cross or shot attempt.
90' + 2'
One minute of stoppage time left, and it would be cruel to deny Athletic the victory they deserve.
Iraola time-wastes blatantly by running with the ball in his hands a full ten yards onto the pitch after Barca win a throw in. Stoppage time upon us.
The whole city of Madrid is banking on the Basque Country side tonight, as Atletico Madrid will remain level on points with Barca, with Real Madrid only three points behind in third.
Alexis sums up Barca's night with an abhorrent attempt at a cross, that goes flying into the nosebleed section, as his frustrated teammates queue up for a delivery that never arrived.
On comes Pedro to try and salvage something for the visitors, about half an hour late I might add. It always boggles the mind how some top level coaches can become set in routine with the timing of their substitutions.
In fact, Balenziaga will no longer be chanced as a weak link due to his cramp, and is replaced by Albizua.
Balenziaga, who has put in an absolutely tireless shift, has finally succumbed to some cramp here, and needs some attention from the physios.
All too casual from Fabregas in his own half, and Bilbao win the ball. Adriano reads a through pass, and plays it back to Pinto, who is also too casual, and Toquera nearly nicks it off his toes!
Yellow Card Adriano
Another brilliant, brilliant ball from Muniain is attacked by Toquera on the six yard line, but with the whole goal to aim for, he places it right at Pinto! That was a GOLDEN chance, and should have been game over!
It's Bilbao who are now dictating the pace of the game, forcing the Catalans onto the back foot as they hunt for a second!
Yellow Card Javier Mascherano
Bilbao simply wanted that one more. They out-hustled the Blaugrana on that play, and real credit must go to Susaeta, who set up that goal with a great ball, one of many from him today in what has been a sterling display.
Mascherano booked for hacking down the goalscorer in the centre of the park.
Yellow Card Toquero
A bad giveaway from Barca near the edge of their own box allows Athletic a route forward, and Susaeta is released down the wing, before pinging a ball onto the boot of the onrushing Muniain, who does the rest from eight yards!
BILBAO TAKE THE LEAD! NOW THEN!
No sign of any goalmouth action. Bilbao's gameplan - hound them down and kick them about - has worked to perfection so far, ruffling the feathers of the preening league leaders.
Still no subs from either side. A look to the bench does not exactly inspire hopes of a cameo breakthrough, with Pedro and Alex Song the only first team regulars. The former may well make an appearance before all is said and done.
Barcelona have failed to win only once this campaign, against Osasuna in October. Athletic are less than half an hour away from pulling out a rare result against the Catalans. In fact, on the balance of play, they might be able to scrap a goal themselves.
Torquera wins a header from a deep cross by Susaeta, and it needed a full stretch catch from Pinto to take the ball away from Muniain, who was lurking at the near post for the tap in.
After some delay, protests and consternation, Neymar strikes it...and i't's wide of the far post in the end.
This time Neymar is upended, as Iturraspe takes him out on the edge of the area. Yellow card, and a dangerous free kick to come. The Bilbao man is perhaps lucky that he did not see red, as that easily could have been construed as a last man foul.
Yellow Card Iturraspe
Yellow Card Busquets
Neymar booked for some petulance against Rico, lashing out at the Bilbao man after he lost out on a challenge.
Yellow Card Neymar Jr.
The Bilbao midfielders are not holding back on their Barca counterparts, as Iniesta is the latest to be flattened, after a challenge by Herrera.
No changes from either manager at the break, and no signs of players warming up on the touchlines. You would expect Tata to make a move sometime soon though, as his team are having no luck in the attacking third.
Fabregas schemes in the hole and squeezes in a great ball to Neymar, who takes three touches to angle his shot, but blasts disappointingly into orbit.
Bilbao have started the second half as they did the first, putting extreme pressure on the defence, and forcing them the play hurriedly out for the back. It worked well in the first half, and there's no reason not to give it a go for certain spells again.
Bilbao restart the match.
We're at half time in San Mames, and it's Athletic who could probably stake a greater claim to an opener. They've has the better chances, mostly fashioned through the dangerous Susaeta, and have battled Barca all the way, despite seeing much less of the ball. Stick around for the restart to see if they can see it out all the way.
45' + 1'
Into the first and only minute, and it doesn't look like any team will push for a last chance.
The match petering out after Toquera snatched at a half chance inside the area. I can't imagine there being much stoppage time.
Sanchez uses his pace to get behind Balenziaga for the first time, but the assistant's flag halts his endeavors for offside.
It's been a real scrap out there at times, and the fires have been stoked all the way by the crowd, who are baying at every perceived injustice against their team.
Susaeta pops up on the left flank this time, and gets past Adriano, he whips in a dangerous cross for Toquera on the penalty spot, and the striker dives onto it, but his header is right at Pinto.
What is going on down on the San Mames pitch? Players are slipping and sliding like Bambi on ice, as Fabregas and Pique are among those to loose their footing.
Neymar, who has been struggling with his boots all game, finally swaps them for a fresh pair on the sidelines. Hopefully that will improve his touch.
MUNIAIN! How has he not scored that one! Susaeta's cross was deflected perfectly into his path, but from point blank range, he slices his finish into the arms of Pinto!
The match breaking up into scraps now as both teams give no quarter in the middle of the park. The referee is forced to blow his whistle more than once as the foul count is racked up.
Neymar has been rather off the boil so far, and his first touch lets him down once again when latching onto a through ball from Iniesta. The Brazilian needs to come up with something more, as does the rest of Barca's front three to be honest.
Busquets is another who deserves praise for his start to the game. His positioning, as always, has been superb, and he's been on hand to put out a few Bilbao fires before they ever really got going.
Montoya is released well on the overlap by Xavi down the right, but just as he's about to pull the trigger, in comes Iraola, who slides in front of the man and blocks his shot.
We haven't seen much from Susaeta and Muniain, the twin wing threats for the Basque side. They should be in for a few chances though, as Adriano and Montoya continue to bomb forward.
Fabregas and Adriano miss the target back to back. The former bent wide of the far post from the top of the box, before the latter drills a long distance attempt into orbit.
Yellow Card Mikel Rico
Xavi with a delicious ball into the box that is just begging to be feasted upon, but incredibly, there are no takers in an orange and yellow shirt, One touch and that was 1-0.
Balenziaga, the Bilbao left back, has made a particularly impressive start to the game, defending well against the off the ball movement of Sanchez in the opening exchanges.
Barca are starting to get into their groove here, moving the ball around the opposition half with their unique brand of patience and penetration. Turning into a more typical outing against the Catalans for Bilbao.
A beautiful buildup from Barca has carved Athletic apart. Iniesta, ALexis and Neymar are all involved, with the Brazilian bending a 12-yarder towards goal that was tipped over excellently by Iraizoz.
Iniesta has his first chance to really stretch his legs and run at the defence, but, with Sanchez peeling away to the left, he plays his pass too far behind the Chilean, who looks frustrated at having to track back and try to recover the ball.
Some hesitation between Adriano and Pinto defending a deep cross at the far post, but the former just about manages to get clear of Susaeta, who was lurking to pick up any scraps.
Not much to talk about in terms of goalmouth action, but the tempo is really progressing at an engaging pace. The home side are getting on the ball a lot and causing Barca to defend.
Positive stuff from the home side to begin the the game, feeding off the energy of this excellent San Mames crowd to press the Blaugrana into some hurried passes. We've seen a lot of teams open with this strategy against Barca, time will tell if they can sustain it.
The first half kicks off as Barca get the ball rolling.
It will be a tough ask for the Catalan giants tonight though, coming on the back of their first defeat of the season against Ajax in the Champions League. They face a Bilbao side that has not lost a single home game in the league this season, one of only three teams in the league to do so.
The Chilean will line up with Neymar on either side of Cesc Fabregas - who will be looking to stake a claim for a regular first team spot with Messi absent. The former Arsenal skipper has put up great numbers as ever, but has found himself an afterthought in the bigger games this season, a development that he publicly voiced his frustration at.
Not counting the stricken Lionel Messi, Barca are missing three members of their regular starting XI, with Dani Alves, Jordi Alba and Victor Valdes all sidelined. The Catalans are boosted by the return of the red hot Alexis Sanchez, who served his ban and is now back in the lineup and raring to go.
BARCELONA (4-3-3): Pinto; Montoya, Pique, Mascherano, Adriano; Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta; Alexis, Cesc, Neymar.
ATHLETIC BILBAO (4-4-2): Iraizoz; Iraola, Gurpegi, Laporte, Balenziaga; Iturraspe, Rico, Herrera, Susaeta; Toquero, Muniain.
First, our teams...
Greetings one and all, and welcome to the Liga chash between Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona. My name is Keeghann Sinanan, and I'll be bringing you all the action.
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