Athletic Club 1-0 Barcelona: Postgame Player Ratings
Athletic’s victory over Barcelona was no fluke. The Lions were well prepared for the Catalans and showed no fear as they went face-to-face with the reigning La Liga champions. It took a full team effort to take the three points at San Mamés with everyone playing an important role. Several players stood out in a big way and Gaizka Garitano’s tactics were perfect.
Unai Simón 8/10
In truth, Unai Simón didn’t have much to deal with but the goalkeeper did everything that was asked of him. The 22-year-old made two spectacular saves and put himself in excellent position when needed. Simón was composed and confident while leading the defense which provided plenty of security in goal.
Ander Capa 8/10
Ander Capa once again showed that he’s one of the best right-backs in La Liga even though he rarely gets the attention. Apart from the sublime assist to Aritz Aduriz which proved to be the winner, Capa nearly set up Raul García for a goal in the first half and was a handful linking up with Oscar De Marcos all night. The 26-year-old was never caught out of position defensively and his physicality caused problems for Antoine Griezmann other attackers.
Unai Nuñez 8/10
Both Athletic center-backs were relatively quiet against Barcelona which was a good thing. Unai Nuñez formed an impenetrable wall alongside Yeray as Barcelona were forced to attack out wide instead of through the middle. The 22-year-old was strong in the air, blocked two shots, and completed 84% of his passes.
Like Nuñez, Yeray was solid. The defender made one key tackle, an important interception, and wasn’t beat a single time in the air or with a dribble. Every time there was a loose ball in or around the box Yeray was there to clean it up and really frustrated the Barcelona forwards who weren’t given any space to attack.
Yuri Berchiche 10/10
Simply put, Yuri Berchiche was the best player on the pitch over the full 90 minutes. The left-back led the team with 4 interceptions, won his only aerial duel, and provided two key passes but it’s what the statistics don’t show that stands out the most. Berchiche’s excellent defending completely marked Ousmane Dembélé out of the game, as well as others, and locked down that side of the field. It was a truly spectacular performance and arguably his very best since joining Athletic.
Dani García 9/10
A quiet night from Dani García usually means he had a major impact on the game which was definitely the case against Barcelona. Playing in front of the defense, García provided protection for the backline and allowed Unai López the freedom to move around the midfield. García led the team with 5 tackles and 5 clearances as well as completing 91% of his passes. The midfielder didn’t put a single foot wrong and was the general keeping everyone organized.
Unai López 5/10
Unai López is hoping to prove that he deserves a regular starting role this season and facing Barcelona was certainly a massive test. The 23-year-old had great moments where he kept possession and beat defenders with his dribbling, but also moments of danger such as a back pass that gave Luis Suarez a clear shot on goal and a bad missed tackle. Overall it was an average night for López who showed flashes but still needs to find consistency with his passing going forward.
Oscar De Marcos 5/10
Likewise, De Marcos wasn’t overly impressive against Barcelona. Featuring on the right-wing, he provided defensive support and linked up well with Capa but impacted the game very little. The 30-year-old was neither poor nor great though he kept Jordi Alba in check as long as he was on the field.
Raúl García 8/10
Raúl García played an important role against Barcelona as the midfielder was tasked with marking Frenkie De Jong and truly frustrated the Dutchman. Apart from choking the middle of the park, García also won six headers, two interceptions, an important tackle, and nearly scored a goal in the first half but was caught off balance. The 33-year-old’s veteran experience gave Barcelona a lot to deal from start to finish.
Iker Muniain 6/10
The new Athletic captain played well against Barcelona, though he wasn’t at his best. Iker Muniain completed 81% of his passes, won a vital tackle, and provided a key pass but went missing at times. Playing on the left-wing, he had more defensive duties than usual while also linking up well with Berchiche. Muniain was very strong on the ball and didn’t lose possession without drawing a foul in the process, but didn’t really have the chance to take on defenders or create chances.
Iñaki Williams 8/10
Iñaki Williams may not have scored a goal against Barcelona but he was one of the best players on the field. The striker’s blast just 14 minutes in set the tone for Athletic’s attacks and his pace demanded constant attention. He held up play well, tracked back to defend, and his movement was very impressive. Williams continues to find ways to impact games even if he isn’t the one putting the ball in the back of the net.
Oihan Sancet 5/10
San Mamés roared as Oihan Sancet came on for De Marcos in the second half to make his debut for the Athletic first team. The 19-year-old is one of the most exciting young players to come through Lezama in recent memory and got his first taste of La Liga football against the reigning champions. While Sancet didn’t really have the opportunity to leave his mark on the game, he did show confidence and a firm grasp of his role in the system.
Beñat replaced Unai López late in the second half and was able to provide more stability from a deep-lying playmaker position. He wasn’t on the field long enough to really make much of a difference but showed once again that he can offer Athletic qualities that no one else in the squad can at the moment.
Aritz Aduriz 10/10 – Man of the Match
The Goal. Aritz Aduriz’s bicycle kick in the 88th minute not only won the match for Athletic, it may very well be the goal of the season. The 38-year-old continues to do the unthinkable and when he started to wind up as Capa’s cross was in the air the entire stadium rose to their feet in expectation of something special. When you score the winner against Barcelona with your first touch, Man of the Match honors are fully deserved.
Gaizka Garitano 10/10
As a whole, Athletic’s performance against Barcelona was sensational. The defense was highly organized, the midfield was physical, and the forward pressed high and created chances. The players were great but Gaizka Garitano was the architect of the victory. The Mister’s tactics were flawless and Garitano deserves the highest praise for exuding confidence and putting the team in a position to beat the reigning champions.