Tag: iturraspe

Copa Del Rey Recap: Underdogs Claim the Advantage (January 5, 2016)

Copa Del Rey Recap: Underdogs Claim the Advantage (January 5, 2016)

Whenever you see a game featuring Barcelona, you usually expect only one result: a resounding Catalonian victory. In this first-leg Copa Del Rey clash, I wrote off Athletic Bilbao under the same assumption. Bilbao, to their credit, are the 2nd most successful Copa Del Rey club in history, and their 7th place spot in La Liga (only 2 points behind Atletico Madrid) is a testament to there solid performances this year. But defeating Barca in their first 2017 clash? I just didn’t see that happening even with home-field advantage. Boy was I wrong. Always the danger man, Aduriz scored one and set-up the other as Bilbao walked into the half-time locker room with an impressive 2-0 lead. The craziest part: It was well deserved! They defended well, and on the attack they showed the world how out of place Barcelona’s defense can be if attacked quickly and fluidly. Barcelona, to their credit, showed some signs of life, and should’ve been awarded a penalty when Neymar was clearly hacked down in the box. Additionally, Aduriz, despite all of his heroics, should have been sent off for an arm swing to Samuel Umtiti which left the defender on the ground struggling for air. After the break, however, Barcelona reclaimed their usual place of dominance, and in the 52nd minute Messi smacked a free-kick off the crossbar and in to cut Bilbao’s lead in half. The rest of the game saw a flurry of fouls and yellow cards as Valverde’s men desperately clung to their one-goal advantage, and both Raul Garcia and Iturraspe were both given their marching orders for receiving 2 yellows. 9-man Bilbao parked the bus after these reductions, and somehow held on for the 1st leg victory. Barcelona deserved the draw, but it was just not meant to be. With the last kick of the game, Messi struck the post and Alcacer missed the rebound, capping off a rare, disappointing performance for Luis Enrique’s men. Whether or not Bilbao will be able to perform similar heroics at the Camp Nou remains to be seen, but it is clear that Barcelona need to step up their game to ensure the victories everyone expects of them.