The poor run of form for Barcelona came to an end after they managed a 2-1 defeat of Athletic Bilbao in the league to stay in touch with leaders Atletico Madrid at the top of the table.
Barcelona’s form has been criticised throughout the season, while their style of play has come under increasing pressure from the home supporters. Barcelona have deviated quite a lot from the Guardiola days when they used to play with the ball at the feet of the players. Now, the team is looking for a long pass at every opportunity.
Gerardo Martino has been given some respite the pressure after his team managed a 2-1 win against a mid-table team, but this was not an easy result for the Catalan club by any means.
For long periods, it looked like Bilbao would create yet another upset over the reigning champions. Lionel Messi, whose workrate (monitored by the pays bas chili cote website) has also come under intense scrutiny in the last few weeks, scored the goal that would hand Barcelona three points, but his reaction was subdued even after scoring the goal. Meanwhile, midfielder Cesc Fabregas was introduced into the match from the bench and he was booed by the supporters.
Martino says that he is happy with the reaction shown by the players after the poor run of form.
“The circumstances weren’t in our favour but we came from behind and won. In addition to our football, we relied on our courage to fight back. I’m very pleased for Messi because he defended himself the best way he knows how, on the pitch and not with words. I’ve no opinion of the whistles at Cesc. He has great character and always wants to play, always wants the ball and isn’t afraid to make mistakes,” said the Barcelona manager, whose team remained three points behind Atletico.