matchdays | 2017-01-06
Luis Enrique: ‘We were better in the second half and deserved to tie the score’
FC Barcelona struggled building from the back due to Bilbao’s high pressure defense
The first match of 2017 ended up with a defeat to Barcelona 2-1 at the hands of Athletic Club Bilbao, a clash set in the first leg of Copa del Rey last 16 round at San Mamés. The Blaugranas were trailing 2-0 early on the match given their pass inaccuracy and troubles building from the back as Luis Enrique admitted: “We struggled early on, and they made the most of two poor clearances from us. Two quick turnovers, and high pressure actions once they had the ball to move two goals up. In the first half, we managed to get into their area without creating any really clear-cut chances. And the half couldn’t have ended worse with us getting all those cards”.
The high pressure defense was an expected strategy from the Basque side yet Barça couldn’t find proper solutions to this as the first half progressed, as conceded by the Asturian coach: “Athletic stayed loyal to their methods. It was high-pressure football and they always know how to cause problems and make you change the way you bring the ball out of defence. You need to find such solutions to deal with games like these. Athletic put so much pressure on you that you need to limit the number of passes, make sure you’re well-positioned and play with intensity”.
Luis enrique claimed the team dusted themselves off after the halftime break and achieved some control over the game: “It was the worst possible scenario but we managed to gain control after the break. The second half was an example of what we need to do as a team. The mood changed, we deserved a lot more, whether or not we were playing against nine men. The goal has given us a lot of oxygen, although we deserved to equalise from all the chances we created. But we were missing accuracy over the final metres.”
Although the tie is not decided yet, the clash at the Camp Nou next week will be a tough one and Barça’s head coach is clear about what’s necessary to complete a comeback: “The return leg won’t be easy. We have to make sure we don’t concede at home and have to score ourselves”.
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WRITTEN BY: Jaime Ibarra
Jaime is a chemical engineer from Venezuela who is passionate about football and Barça. He loves the club’s history and he has been an unconditional fan since Ronaldo “The Phenomenon” amazed the world with the Blaugrana colors.