Kampfakta Barcelona – Atlethic Bilbao 3. april 10.

The goals
1-0, Jeffren (min 26)
2-0, Bojan (min 40)
3-0, Bojan (min 58)
4-0, Messi (min 67)
4-1, Susaeta (min 76)

Guardiola gets it right again (4-1)

Roger Bogunyà

FC Barcelona produced yet another convincing performance at the Camp Nou against Athletic Club Bilbao, winning 4-1 thanks to goals from Jeffren, Bojan (2) and Messi.

Despite coming right in the middle of Easter weekend, there was an excellent turnout at the Camp Nou for what some had feared was a potential banana skin encounter against the in-form Basques. But a much-changed Barça team was able to deliver the goods in style, putting further pressure on co-leaders Real Madrid, who are in action in Santander tomorrow.

Ibra injured

There was pre-match alarm when Zlatan Ibrahimovic was hurt in the warm-up, obliging Guardiola to shuffle his pack and play Bojan as his striker instead. With two key centre backs suspended for the midweek European encounter with Arsenal, and Alves suspended, the manager also made changes in defence. Chygrynskiy was given a recall, and managed to silence his critics with a solid display both in defence and in support of the forwards.

Typically, Barça dominated possession from the start, although for the first twenty or so minutes this only managed to produce a series of half chances, the best for Maxwell in the 11th minute. When Messi missed an open goal in the 20th, he had already been called offside. It was the same man who started the move that led to Barça’s first goal, with a pass from the edge of the area to Abidal, who then threaded a killer pass across the six yard box for Jeffren to slot home for his first league goal of the season.

Great night for Bojan

But Athletic were not just here to admire Barça’s silky skills, and as well as some solid defending, also created a few chances themselves. The best of these fell to Llorente, but Chygrynskiy managed to get a foot on the pass to cause enough of a bobble to confuse Bilbao’s star striker, who sent the ball into the stands.

Then five minutes before the break, Barça made it two. Carles Puyol cleverly intercepted a stray Bilbao clearance and immediately delivered a perfect through ball to Bojan, who capped an excellent first half by converting the ball with professional class.

Three then four

Bilbao came out strong in the second half, but squandered several chances to get back into the game, including a Toquero header that Valdés pushed around the post. But Barça were always in control, and shortly after Messi had nobly confessed that the crowd’s claims for a penalty were wrong, it was 3-0. Maxwell started the move by picking out Abidal, who laid up the ball for Bojan to rifle into the net from outside the area.

That was in the 59th minute, and eight minutes later it was 4-0. Pedro, who had just come on for the injured Jeffren, supplied a low pass from the right wing, and Messi was there to sneak the ball under Gorka’s body to score his 26th goal of the Liga campaign.

Injury woes

There were further injury concerns when Toure Yaya called for a change. When the Ivorian was replaced by Jonathan Dos Santos, it meant there were now no fewer than eight Barça youth team products on the field.

Bilbao managed a consolation goal in the 76th minute when a Yeste run was followed by a well placed strike from Susaeta. A minute later the visitors could have made it two when Iturraspe was able to shoot unchallenged from inside the area, but Victor Valés superbly managed to get a foot in the way.

With the result no longer in doubt, Barça were able to relax for the last ten minutes, and excellent saves from the respective goalkeepers ensured there would be no further scoring on yet another magnificent night for FC Barcelona, just one week before the much anticipated trip to the Spanish capital.

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