The meeting of FC Barcelona with Athletic Club on Saturday night gave rise to a series of outstanding conclusions, a trio of which we will delve into below.
Pay at the target
Ronald Koeman’s men were back in action recently.
The blaugrana made the trip to San Mamés, for a league match with the aforementioned Bilbao.
Barça headed to proceedings with the aim of keeping alive a positive start to the new campaign, after recovering from the departure of the talisman Lionel Messi with a 4-2 takedown of Real Sociedad.
When all was said and done in the Basque Country tonight, however, the visitors were forced to settle for a share of the loot.
A throbbing affair, during which both sides could and probably should have added more to the scoreboard, eventually culminated in a 1-1 draw.
Íñigo Martínez put Athletic in front early in the second half, nodding his head after a period of sustained pressure.
Barcelona, however, leveled up devastatingly with 15 minutes remaining, when Memphis Depay scored a pass from Sergi Roberto to split the defense and secured a point in the process:
Memphis magic! 😱
He crashed against the roof of the net for the Barça draw 💥 pic.twitter.com/DaqS54yMCW
– Premier Sports (@PremierSportsTV) August 21, 2021
Dazzling De Jong
Depay’s eventual draw came as a just reward for the Dutchman, who, since entering free agency this summer, has seemed by some distance the most dangerous of Ronald Koeman’s attackers.
The former Lyon player set up the club’s first goal against Sociedad last time out, with his first competitive goal in the Blaugrana colors tonight heralding very well when it comes to future prospects.
While Depay proved to be the one who finally made the difference on the scoreboard tonight, however, it was another member of the visiting XI who shone the most at San Mamés.
The player in question? Frenkie De Jong.
Another Dutchman currently practicing his trade in Catalunya, the young midfielder seemed to be at the center of all the positives produced by the visitors tonight.
De Jong has become a complete midfielder over the past two seasons, with his almost unmatched combination of cunning, dribbling ability, defensive sense and relentless work pace that has been on full display against Athletic Club.
| Frenkie de Jong vs. Athletic Bilbao
70 passes (85% accuracy)
2 key passes
2 precise long balls
1 carpentry stroke
4 successful dribbles
9 duels won
2 free spaces
2 shots blocked
2 tickets pic.twitter.com/K68kY5jANi
– 🪄🇳🇱 (@FDJChief) August 21, 2021
However, a pretty solid night for Barcelona on Saturday, they were soured by a couple of hits on the personnel front.
First, at the half-hour mark, key defender Gerard Piqué was forced to limp, after sustaining an unspecified injury. This adds to a worrying trend for the Spanish veteran, who has lately begun to struggle in his efforts to simply stay on the field:
– OptaJose (@OptaJose) August 21, 2021
Then, just minutes from the end of 90 minutes in the Basque Country, the Blaugrana defensive woes were added even more, when Eric García was sent for an early bath after a last-man challenge on the edge of the area.
Koeman may need to get creative when his team host Getafe next weekend …
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