Athletic Club made the trip to Saint Montjuic to take on Barcelona for gameweek ten in La Liga today, hoping to slowly crawl their way into the top four positions after a promising start to the season.
With multiple injuries in the squad, Xavi opted to shake things up a bit, starting Inigo Martinez in central defence, while Fermin Lopez was given the nod to play as the false 9, while Joao Felix and Ferran Torres flanked him.
Barça faced problems against Ernesto Valverde’s side, as they always do, and were held to a goalless first half despite some promising chances for Felix and Fermin.
Second half was arguably worse for the Catalans in terms of control, barring a chance every now and then through Felix’s individual brilliance. Eventually, the Portuguese’s efforts paid off as he set up debutant Marc Guiu for the winner in the 80th minute.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 8
Uncharacteristically poor while distributing the ball today, but clutch as ever in goal, making some huge saves.
Joao Cancelo: 6
Had his plate full throughout the game dealing with Nico Williams, but did mostly well to clear any and all danger coming from that flank. However, far from his best performance with the ball with so much defensive responsibility hanging over his head.
Andreas Christensen: 6.5
Looked shaky from the get-go, and was poorly positioned for a fair few counter-attacks launched by Athletic. Kept it easy with the ball, though, playing safe passes, misplacing barely any.
Inigo Martinez: 8.5
Inigo clearly wanted to prove a point against his former club and did so with a superb defensive display at the back. Was proactive, and made some huge interceptions, including a last-man block vs Nico Williams.
Alejandro Balde: 8
One of his better performances this season as the final ball luck finally played in his favour. Made some darting runs to beat the Athletic defence, and created a few chances. Unlucky to not end up with an assist.
Consistently one of Barcelona’s best performers this season, Gavi was, once again, at the heart of every offensive and defensive action. Did well to set up multiple chances for the attack, and helped out Joao Cancelo defensively.
Oriol Romeu: 7
Started well but started dissipating as the game went on. Has clearly improved his distribution, though, which is a promising sign for Barça. Was also solid defensively, proactively halting attacks before they started.
Ilkay Gundogan: 8
Positioned in the right place at the right time all the time, Gundogan helped set the tempo for Barcelona in an otherwise chaotic game. Found the perfect outlet in Balde and Felix on multiple occasions.
Ferran Torres: 7.5
A bit discombobulated at times on the right wing, trying to find the balance between cutting in and providing width, Ferran eventually settled in well and created a couple of very good chances, one missed narrowly by Felix.
Fermin Lopez: 6.5
Added a lot of intensity and directness to the attack, but playing in a foreign position, he had way too much on his plate offensively. Came close to scoring twice, and should have converted at least one of those shots, at least.
Joao Felix: 9.5
By far the best player on the pitch, Felix was unstoppable today. He missed an easy chance early on in the game, but continued to create chances and improvise with his attacks. In fact, he was probably unlucky to not be awarded a penalty in the first half.
Eventually, his hard work bore fruit as he set up Marc Guiu for the winner with a perfectly-timed through ball. Did everything but score today, but the signs are incredibly promising.
Ronald Araujo: 6
Brought on to add aggressive depth to the team, Araujo did well after coming on, winning multiple aerial duels.
Lamine Yamal: 5
His age was best evident during today’s game as he could not get the better of Athletic’s rigid backline. Should have scored a brilliant setup from Felix, but missed the target altogether.
Marcos Alonso: N/A
Did not do enough to warrant a rating.
Marc Guiu: 8
The man of the moment, 17-year-old Marc Guiu. Came on in the 79th minute, scored the winner with his second touch in the 80th minute, booked for challenging the goalkeeper in the 83rd minute. A hell of a debut.