LA LIGA

Barcelona and Athletic meet at the Camp Nou

Pablo torre La Liga

When things could not go all the more wrong, Barcelona have dropped to 2nd place in La Liga. The Blaugranas are having one of their worst patches of form after what was a promising start to the season. The team has lost to the likes of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, and Inter Milan this season. Xavi has so far failed to deliver in all of the big matches which have left the fans frustrated. However, the team has bounced back in style as they dismantled Villareal in the 1st half itself. There are plenty of positives to look for but there are a lot of issues to deal with as well. Injuries have also hit them really hard this season.

As for the Clasico last week, Barcelona were far from their best against Real Madrid. This questions Xavi’s tactics and his chosen team as many felt Sergio Busquets should have been dropped. Frenkie De Jong, Pedri, and Gavi should be the chosen midfield for Barcelona which was not the case in the Clasico. Jules Kounde is featured in the Clasico 100% fit. The Frenchman was brilliant, considering it was his first game in about a month, returning from injury. But this does present loopholes in the team’s structure and the way they are set up. Robert Lewandowski was also absent through the majority of the match as he did not get many services.

The 3-1 defeat at the hands of Real Madrid in the Clasico was a bitter one to take for Barcelona. The performance drew criticism as the team did not know what to do. Real Madrid were simply much better and much more clinical than them. The hosts scored when it mattered the most and did not give Barca a chance to mount a comeback. The month of October has been really poor for the Catalans as they have lost out on all the big games. When it mattered, the team failed to step up and thus the consequences are there. Now they face up against Athletic Bilbao who comes to Camp Nou to ruin Barca’s evening.

Ernesto Valverde returns to the Camp Nou

As Bilbao comes to Barcelona, they come with a familiar face in town. Ernesto Valverde, the former Barcelona manager, is back at his beloved ground as he will look to inspire his side to victory. Valverde was Barcelona’s coach from 2017-2019. In that spell, he won 2 La Liga titles and 1 Copa Del Rey title. It was under Valverde that Barcelona reached the semi-finals of the UCL but they crashed out humiliated by Liverpool.

That defeat had more to it as they also lost the Copa Del Rey that season. They were on course for a treble that season but fate did not think so. Valverde also won most amount of Clasico’s in his stint as the coach. Lionel Messi was at his imperious best under the Spanish coach which explains how the team did so well against all the top teams.

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