Athletic Club 0-0 Barcelona: Postgame Player Ratings
For the second time this season Athletic Club were the better side in a match against Barcelona, but weren’t able to take all three points. A great goalkeeper performance kept the Lions from scoring but that won’t change the fact that playing Barcelona to a scoreless draw is always a good result and the Zurigorri executed their game plan to perfection. It took an entire team effort to secure the positive result, but this one was all about defense and being brave in attack after winning back possession.
Iago Herrerín 7/10
When a team earns a clean sheet the goalkeeper always deserves heavy praise and that’s true of Iago Herrerín once again. He may have only had to make two saves, but he was quick to leave his line and claim or punch away crosses. The 31-year-old was also very vocal which helped keep the defense organized during long spells without the ball and aided in handling free kicks.
Oscar De Marcos 6/10
Oscar De Marcos was shown two yellow cards against Barcelona and, even if the second wasn’t justified and could be repealed, that does negatively affect his overall ratings. All of that aside, the right-back had a very solid night at the San Mamés. De Marcos led the team with 6 clearances, provided 3 crosses, won 3 headers, and gave a key pass that nearly turned into the winning goal. He balanced his attacking runs wisely and made things very difficult for the Catalans down the wing.
The story for Athletic against Barcelona was all about defense and Yeray played a big role in that success. Once again the 24-year-old was arguably the best player on the pitch and the statistics confirm what was another solid night. Yeray completed 90% of his passes, made 4 tackles, won 2 headers, 2 interceptions, blocked 2 shots, and had 5 clearances. The center-back only committed 2 fouls as well and completed 3/6 long balls while also having a shot on goal. As is usually the case, his positioning was exceptional.
Iñigo Martinez 8/10
Another match, another stellar performance from Iñigo Martinez who made it extremely difficult for Barcelona to create chances through the middle of the field. The center-back made a key tackle, 3 clearances, blocked one shot, and led the team with 5 interceptions. Like Yeray, Martinez kept great positioning and regularly stepped up to cut off passing lanes and also contributed offensively by completing 4/10 long balls.
Mikel Balenziaga 7/10
The best way to describe Mikel Balenziaga’s performance against Barcelona is “quietly solid”. With only one tackle and 3 clearances it may not seem like much, but the left-back was always in position and didn’t put a foot wrong or turn the ball over at all. Balenziaga did a lot of the little things that go unnoticed but are very important for a team to have a strong showing. He was, as some say, an unsung hero.
Dani García 8/10
When Dani García is on, he is unbelievably good and that was the case against Barcelona. The midfielder completed 92% of his passes, perfect in the first half, and was also 2/3 on long balls. He made a tackle, blocked a shot, and had 3 important clearances throughout the match. After watching the game back through a few times it became even more clear that García was affecting the match in ways that statistics can’t explain. He was constantly cutting off passing lanes, giving his teammates outlets to keep possession, played a major role in the organization of the entire team.
While Dani García played a significant role in Athletic’s defense, Beñat was freed up to make more of an impact on the attack when the team had the ball. The midfielder provided a key pass, 4 crosses, and was 1/3 on long balls. He also had a timely tackle to stop a Barcelona counter attack. It may not seem like much, but Beñat affected the game in a positive way and didn’t shy away from his defensive duties either.
Markel Susaeta 7/10
Markel Susaeta was named in the starting lineup much to everyone’s surprise, but he repaid Gaizka Garitano’s faith with a good performance. In the first half the captain almost opened up the scoring with a curling shot that forced the goalkeeper to make a diving save. Susaeta also provided a key pass, 4 crosses, won 1 header, and did exactly what was asked of him on defense. The argument could be made that he was Athletic’s most influential player going forward in the entire first half.
Raúl García 9/10
Athletic have played very well with Raúl García out of the lineup due to injury, but the 32-year-old was back in the team against Barcelona and made his presence felt early and often. Rulo had three shots, one a bicycle kick that was saved, led the team with 9 headers, won 5 tackles, had 3 clearances, and 1 interception. He was everywhere on offense and defense and his leadership was absolutely invaluable against such a strong opponent. Having Raúl García back gives Garitano another versatile weapon to work with going forward.
Yuri Berchiche 7/10
Every time Yuri Berchiche has played on the left-wing he’s done well and that trend continued against Barcelona. The 29-year-old had 3 shots, 1 key pass, won 1 header, 2 interceptions, and drew 2 fouls. Berchiche also completed 90% of his passes and was 1/1 on long balls. It was his work rate that stood out above all else as he linked up well with Balenziaga to shut down Barcelona’s attacks down the wing and force turnovers with aggressive pressing.
Iñaki Williams 8/10
Iñaki Williams did absolutely everything against Barcelona except score a goal and that wasn’t even his fault. Playing as the striker he had 4 shots and 2 of them should have been in the back of the net but the goalkeeper made great saves to keep a clean sheet against the Lions. The 24-year-old also provided 3 key passes, won 4 dribbles, 1 header, and drew 3 fouls. He also understood the importance of contributing on defense and made 2 clearances while always being ready to break on a counter attack as well as hold up play when necessary.
Mikel San José 7/10
When Mikel San José came on for Beñat in the 52nd minute for Beñat his role was clear, help cause more problems for Barcelona’s offense and play aggressive defense. In his limited minutes the midfielder was very good. San José completed 92% of his passes, including a key pass, while also winning a dribble and nearly scoring with a great effort from outside the box on a counter attack. He was at his best when the Lions didn’t have possession as he won 1 tackle, made 1 clearance, and had 3 key interceptions which all saw Athletic given the chance to counter attack. With San José and Dani García playing in front of the defense there was very little that Barcelona could do.
Iker Muniain 8/10
Iker Muniain’s entrance in the 62nd minute completely changed the game. Coming out of the halftime break Barcelona were in complete control and looked more dangerous than ever, but Muniain gave Athletic a spark and creativity that nearly saw the Lions score the winner on a few different occasions. The 26-year-old completed 88% of his passes, won 2 dribbles, provided a key pass, and was constantly cutting through Barcelona’s midfield and backline which caused a lot of problems for the Catalans. After the game Gaizka Garitano admitted that the plan was always to bring on a fresh Muniain in the second half and the idea worked perfectly.
Kenan Kodro 5/10
Kenan Kodro made his Athletic debut in the final minutes of the game when he came on for Iñaki Williams. The striker didn’t have enough time to really do much, but he did complete every pass on his three touches and the team didn’t skip a beat with him in the game.