Monday, February 26, 2007

Crikey Bilbao are rubbish

So Eto'o's back. No big deal really. He scored one and set up another. Gave Barça an focal-point to their attack for the first time in months, was quick and incisive, sharp and generally brilliant. As were the rest of 'em, beating Bilbao 3-0 and looking somewhat like a professional football team again after the debacle that was the second half against Liverpool. Without Deco and Zambrotta through suspension and Belletti due to injury, Oleguer, Thuram, Giuly (in place of the still rusty Leo Messi) and Gio returned to the side. Marquez, farcically bad against the Reds, sat this one out, not even making the bench.

It's hard to talk about how well Barcelona played without first pointing out that Bilbao were dreadful. Completely toothless upfront, their only chance falling to lumbering old man Urzaiz, 83, and a mess in defense, time and again they were carved open only to be saved by poor finishing from the blaugrana or some heroic golkeeping from Daniel Aranzubia. With both 'Nastic and Sociedad all but certain to be relegated, it's one team from a group of about six who could be joining them and on the evidence of Sunday night's capitulation Athletic are going to be down there until the bitter end.

While they're not going to be playing sides of Barça's quality every week it's easy to see them being turned over more often than not. They badly miss Carlos Gurpegi (currently serving a two year suspension for doping), Iraola has gone backwards, Etxeberria aside they have no good forwards (Llorente is absolutely hopeless and the aforementioned Urzaiz is surely close to retirement) and their back line leaks gols like it's going out of fashion.

Bearing all of this in mind rather takes the shine off Barcelona's win. That said they needed both a victory and to play well after Wednesday night and those boxes were ticked. It was fantastic so see Sammy back. They're a different team with him leading the line. It was also nice to keep a clean sheet though their were a few hairy moments with the ball bouncing every which way but Thuram was steady and Oleguer pretty solid too. I'd expect both to play in the Copa game against Saragossa in two days time. I'm off to bed now with the sound of the rain pattering on the window. Bon nit.

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