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LaLiga 2019-20, Athletic Bilbao 1-0 Barcelona: Player Ratings

ANALYST
Feature
17 Aug 2019, 07:18 IST

Aduriz celebrates with his teammates after an excellent matchwinner late on against Barcelona
Aduriz celebrates with his teammates after an excellent matchwinner late on against Barcelona

Aritz Aduriz came off the substitutes' bench and instantly turned matchwinner for Athletic Bilbao with a brilliant scissor-kick strike to stun a lacklustre Barcelona side 1-0 late on as the 2019/20 LaLiga campaign kicked off in style at San Mamés. 

The defending champions started without talisman Lionel Messi while centre-forward Luis Suárez limped off before half-time - having hit the post from close-range after Unai López's mistake in possession. 

Iñaki Williams came close on a handful of occasions for the hosts, while substitute Rafinha forced Spain U-21 goalkeeper Unai Simón into an excellent reflex save just before the break but it looked certain to finish a goalless draw.

Aduriz, who is set to retire at the season's end, replaced Williams with two minutes plus stoppages to play. Within a minute of being introduced, he wheeled away to celebrate his superb finish which left Marc-Andre ter Stegen helpless. With that in mind, here's a look at player ratings from a memorable season-opener in Bilbao: 


Athletic Bilbao (4-2-3-1)

Unai Simón (Goalkeeper): 8/10

Didn't have much to do in the first-half, before producing an excellent reflex save to tip Rafinha's goalbound effort onto the crossbar.

He was slightly more busy under waves of sustained pressure in the second half, but an accomplished display and deservedly kept a clean sheet to start the new campaign.

Ander Capa: 8/10

Dangerous on the overlap and left Jordi Alba in his wake a few too many times. Capa should have had an assist to his name before half-time after teeing up Raúl Garcia, though the eventual effort was tame and easily smothered.

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Eventually he earned an assist after delivering a looping cross which Aduriz reacted quickest too, finishing spectacularly late on.

Unai Núñez: 7/10

Booked in the second half for a cynical block on Rakitic, which was truly a silly foul in transition that he didn't need to make.

Thankfully for him, he wasn't targeted and kept his cool during a largely solid defensive effort from the hosts.

Yeray Álvarez: 6.5/10

Went about his defensive work quietly alongside Núñez but both were prepared to put their body on the line to keep a hard-earned clean sheet. He made two clearances, one tackle, block and interception but the main criticism was his poor passing (68.2% completion rate)

Yuri Berchiche: 7/10

Displayed his quality on both sides of the pitch - teeing up Inaki and looking threatening on counter-attacking moves, while tenacious in the tackle when called upon as Barca aimed to grow into the game.

Ultimately though, Berchiche's end product in the final third lacked consistency under pressure. Otherwise, he'd have earned a higher rating here too.

Dani García: 7.5/10

Garcia dispossesses substitute Rafinha during an action-packed evening for the midfielder
Garcia dispossesses substitute Rafinha during an action-packed evening for the midfielder

Dani Garcia reacted well when called upon to stifle Barca out of possession and sweep up loose passes, was kept busy but relished the challenge against a disjointed Barcelona midfield with talented players but seemingly little cohesion between them. He won nine duels while completing five clearances, three tackles and two interceptions over the 90 minutes.

Iker Muniain: 6.5/10

On his first appearance as Bilbao captain, Muniain delivered a decent display - but one leaving fans hoping for more to come in future. Aware of Barca's threats, he was more focused defensively and this wasn't going to be the game to watch his creative abilities shine through.

He did well to win free-kicks and relieve pressure upon his teammates, while also getting stuck in when out of possession. Muniain won 10 duels, possession back on four occasions, completed two dribbles and created a key pass during a busy evening on both ends of the pitch.

Raúl García: 6.5/10

Raul Garcia headed over early on from a promising set-piece delivery and it rather typified his game in truth.

He also missed another opening after a weak contact on the eventual shot, though he harried and closed down passes well out of possession and did his utmost to frustrate Barca. 

Unai López: 6/10

Unai Lopez tested ter Stegen from distance courtesy of a respectable but audacious effort, before his blushes were saved by the post after inadvertently teeing up Suarez with a backpass. Solid but unspectacular display before being replaced late on.

Óscar De Marcos: 6/10

De Marcos ran tirelessly down the wing, making several troublesome runs into the final third, while providing defensive cover for Capa behind him to prove an ever-present thorn for Griezmann to contend with.

However, questions over his creative efficiency continue: he lost possession on ten occasions and had just 55.6% pass completion success before being replaced. 

Iñaki Williams: 7/10

Inaki worked tirelessly, both in-and-out of possession, to create chances from nothing for Bilbao
Inaki worked tirelessly, both in-and-out of possession, to create chances from nothing for Bilbao

The hosts' key danger man stretched Alba and Clement Lenglet throughout, tested ter Stegen from various angles. He will naturally be disappointed not to have broken the deadlock after three efforts on-goal.

Nonetheless, Inaki Williams held up play well and brought others into play, working tirelessly off-the-ball and 9.5km distance run (after just 45 minutes!) reiterates that infectious work ethic from the forward.

The decision to replace him with time winding down wasn't well-received by home supporters, though Aduriz proved an inspired replacement late on.

Substitutes

Oihan Sancet: 6/10

The 19-year-old midfielder made his competitive debut to a rapturous applause by the home support, replacing a jaded de Marcos after 65 minutes. Was forced into doing more defensive work than he would have liked ideally, but didn't seem out of place.

Aritz Aduriz: 10/10 - Man of the Match

How could you not give Aduriz a ten? The Bilbao legend came on with the scores finely poised at 0-0, seemingly the points would be shared in another draw between these two sides.

Alas, the 38-year-old had other ideas - beating Nelson Semedo to Capa's delivery before unleashing a brilliant scissor kick which flew into the bottom corner with aplomb.

The matchwinning goal means he has now scored in 15 successive La Liga seasons, joining none other than Lionel Messi as the only players to do so. A fantastic start to his farewell campaign as a professional.

Beñat Etxebarria: N/A

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