Barcelona vs. Athletic Club  5 - 1

Article

Bielsa hails rampant Barca

2 December 2012 16:22

Athletic Bilbao coach Marcelo Bielsa lavished praise on Barcelona after seeing his side destroyed 5-1 by Tito Vilanova's men on Saturday.

Goals from Gerard Pique, Adriano, Cesc Fabregas and a double by Lionel Messi ensured Barca remained 11 points ahead of Real Madrid on the table, while also breaking the record for the best start to a Liga season in the process.

Bielsa admitted his side simply could not match Barcelona, and feels the Catalan giants have lost none of their intensity in the transition from Pep Guardiola's tenure to that of Vilanova.

"We tried to play football, and build quick attacks without losing possession," Bielsa told reporters after the game.

"The big difference between them and us is that our attacks never thrived. Every time we lost the ball, we felt dizzy trying to dispossess them."

"They are the same (Guardiola and Vilanova's Barcelona sides). The same power, the same style, and the same sense of constant unpredictability."

Athletic host Sparta Prague in the final round of Europa League group fixtures on Thursday, although Bielsa's men - finalists last season - have already been eliminated from the competition.

Article

Barcelona on track for titles, says Vilanova

2 December 2012 03:11

Tito Vilanova believes that Barcelona's record-breaking start to the season will see them win silverware, should they maintain their form.

The club's 5-1 triumph over Athletic Bilbao in La Liga on Saturday night ensured that the club have had the best start to a top-flight Spanish campaign in their 113-year lifespan, surpassing Real Madrid's 1991-92 marker.

Vilanova said that making history is great, but he preferred to look at the individual effort against the Basques at Camp Nou.

"I'm pleased that we broke the record but I'm even more pleased with how the players played in the game," Vilanova said.

"Even though we were up 5-1, we kept on pressing them with the intention of scoring more. If we continue down this path I'm sure we'll win a lot of matches and we'll be there when it comes time to fight for silverware."

Despite the one-sided scoreline, Vilanova insisted that the encounter was not an easy affair and praised the intensity of their opponents.

"Athletic have a different way of playing to the rest (of La Liga's teams) because they never let up; they never give you time to think," the Spaniard added.

"If you don't play at an intense pace, Athletic can make it very complicated for you. We were very intense in our individual match-ups, we took risks and we were on target in front of goal. Even though the end result shows a big difference, it wasn't an easy match."

Vilanova also heralded Pep Guardiola's time in charge of Barcelona, just days after his former boss was nominated for FIFA's Coach of the Year award.

"Those four years are unrepeatable because of everything that was done, because of the titles, because of how the team played," he said.

"I'm very proud that I was part of it."

Article

La Liga wrap: Record-breaking Barca crush Bilbao, Ronaldo lifts Real

2 December 2012 00:45

Barcelona crushed Athletic Bilbao 5-1 at Camp Nou on Saturday to continue their undefeated start to the La Liga season.

The win marked the best ever start to a La Liga season of any side in the Spanish top-flight's 113-year history and also saw Lionel Messi close within a goal of Gerd Muller's 85-goal record in a calendar year following another brace.

The marker was set from the 23rd minute, when Gerard Pique poked home the opener, before Messi and Adriano also struck to send Barca into a deserved three-goal lead at half-time.

Cesc Fabregas added a fourth shortly before the hour mark and despite a consolation effort from Ibai Gomez, Messi scored again with 20 minutes remaining to put the finishing touches on the win.

With Real Madrid trailing the league leaders by a mammoth 17 points before kick-off, the pressure was on Jose Mourinho's side to deliver in the derby against second-placed Atletico Madrid.

And so they did, Real producing a clinical performance to emerge 2-0 victors at the Bernabeu, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Oezil on target.

Mourinho gave fans the opportunity to boo him on the pitch 40 minutes before kick-off, but was greeted positively despite his brazen ploy.

And it did not take long for his side to take the lead in the match, as Ronaldo slotted home a rasping free-kick in the 16th minute.

The home side were slightly fortunate to go into the break with 11 men after Ramos caught Atletico's in-form forward Radamel Falcao with a stray elbow as the two tussled for possession right in front of the linesman.

Half-time failed to calm either team as the second stanza was punctuated by spats between players from each side, just as the first half had been.

Oezil settled tensions when he caught makeshift left-back Cata Diaz out of position and fired home Ronaldo's pinpoint delivery with a delightful volley on 66 minutes.

Real had a game in hand on Barcelona but remain 14 points behind the leaders and eight behind Atletico.

Valencia sacked coach Mauricio Pellegrino after a 5-2 hammering at home by Real Sociedad.

The loss leaves Valencia languishing in 12th place and Pellegrino was shown the door soon after the clash despite his side battling with only 10 men for over a half.

Jonas was handed a straight red card for a stray elbow in the 41st minute with the home side 1-0 up.

The dismissal sparked three goals in 20 minutes for the visitors and despite Spain international Roberto Soldado completing his brace for Valencia, Sociedad went on to score through Imanol Agirretxe and Carlos Vela in the final 10 minutes to end Pellegrino's rein at the club.

Malaga continue to stutter with a 1-0 loss at Getafe the latest in a streak of only one win in eight games.

Lopo put Getafe ahead shortly before the hour mark the home side held on despite a late red card to Diego Castro.

Article

Muniain eyes Barcelona upset

30 November 2012 16:03

Athletic Bilbao forward Iker Muniain is hopeful his side can get a positive result in Saturday's La Liga game at against Barcelona.

The Basque side languish in 14th position, but Muniain remains positive ahead of this week's clash at Camp Nou.

"It is always nice to take on Barcelona. We travel to Camp Nou with the intention of getting a positive result," the attacker told El Mundo Deportivo.

"There is not really a formula to beat them, but we can get a good result if we are on top of our game and work hard for each other.

"We cannot afford to give them any opportunities. We are slowly getting back the feeling from last season. Nobody can cause a team as much trouble as we can."

Primera División table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +75 100
2 38 +61 85
3 38 +34 76
4 38 +21 66
5 38 +13 65
6 38 +3 57
7 38 +1 56
8 38 -16 53
9 38 +4 50
10 38 -14 47
11 38 -17 46
12 38 -21 45
13 38 -9 44
14 38 -9 43
15 38 -17 42
16 38 -17 39
17 38 -15 37
18 38 -29 36
19 38 -23 35
20 38 -25 34