Athletic Club 0 - 0 Barcelona: Disappointment and Heartbreak Repeats Itself

Barcelona's lackluster performance overshadowed by injuries

Athletic Club v FC Barcelona - LaLiga EA Sports
Athletic Club v FC Barcelona - LaLiga EA Sports / Alex Caparros/GettyImages

It's the same old FC Barcelona once again. It's almost story-like how Barcelona's seasons have turned out in recent years, one that always ends in its best players injured in the most crucial stages, setting up for more disastrous performances.

Match Recap

The Basque Giants Athletic Club came into this match 5th in La Liga, and after a 3-0 thrashing of Athletico Madrid midweek, it was a shock to see how intensely they started this match. Barça was completely overwhelmed to begin with. The intensity of Bilbao's press suffocated the Blaugrana, who struggled to obtain any control over the tempo of the match.

The only chance Barcelona had presented themselves with was an audacious attempt by Cancelo to lob Unai Simón from near the halfway line, which would've been an unbelievable way to break the deadlock. Cancelo's lone attempt would remain Barça's sole threat to score throughout the whole match, as Lewandowski left zero impact in the final third.

But the performance wasn't the worst part of the first half. Both Frenkie De Jong and Pedri went down with injuries, becoming a repetitive pattern with the team in the latter stages of the season, time and time again. The very heart of the squad being crushed with injuries spiralled the entire team out of rhythm.

Lewandowski before the match had been awarded the La Liga best player of the month for February, scoring 4 goals, yet showed none of his finishing capabilities at San Mamés, being completely pinned by Bilbao's tight defensive line.

If you believed the first half was disappointing, the second half was a snooze fest. Barcelona quite literally got dismantled. Whatever little drive they had to win in the first 45, completely evaporated following the substitution of the injured De Jong and Pedri.

With a mere 2 shots on target in the entire game, the attack was non-existent for Barcelona. Raphinha had a performance he would want to forget; raking up 0 shots, 0 dribble attempts, 0 key passes, 0 long balls and 0 successful crosses. It will be interesting to see if Xavi decides to returns him to the bench in place of Lamine Yamal.

Salvaging the Season

With the 2 dropped points following the draw vs Athletic Club, Barcelona failed to capitalize on Real Madrid's slip-up making it quite difficult to set a path to retaining the league title. All hope will now shift to the Champions League 2nd leg match vs Napoli on March 12th.

Without arguably their 2 best midfielders, it's gonna be interesting to see how Xavi assembles his squad in the event of both players likely missing the next few weeks of action. Fermín López, who had a poor show out against Athletic Club, will need to step up his game quickly, to fill the void in midfield.

It may finally be time for Vitor Roque to get his opportunity to shine with Barça's struggling attacking line presently. Whatever the case, the Blaugrana have to quickly depart from this atrocious performance, otherwise it will be another competition they're eliminated from and a season of zero trophies.