Barcelona have never had it easy when visiting San Mames and the story was no different when they faced Athletic Bilbao on the road on Saturday. The Blaugrana had very little joy as they ended the match with just a point. To make matters worse, Gerard Pique departed with an injury while Eric Garcia was also sent off.
Ronald Koeman’s side has had to adapt to playing without Lionel Messi, who recently joined Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer. The Catalans performed creditably on the opening day of the season by thrashing Real Sociedad 4-2. However, their latest performance against Athletic Bilbao is evidence that the team still has a long way to go.
Depay shines against Bilbao
Amidst all the lows at San Mames, though, Barcelona fans can feel excited by Memphis Depay's performance. The Dutchman joined in the summer but he’s already taking on a big role in the team.
Depay provided an assist against Real Sociedad last week and was again on the scoresheet as Barcelona came from behind to draw 1-1 with Athletic Bilbao on Saturday. He was Barcelona’s main threat up front and despite missing a couple of glaring chances, he ended the game as their best player on the pitch.
The 27-year-old is still adapting to life at Nou Camp but looks so sharp and focused and that can only bode well for the team in subsequent games.
Depay fast becoming Barcelona’s star man
Depay’s productivity makes him the first Barcelona player to have a goal involvement in each of his opening two league appearances since Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez in the 2011-12 season.
He’s no Messi, but Depay's impact on the team means he’s fast becoming the club’s main man in the post-Messi era.
"He [Memphis Depay] has scored a great goal and had a chance for another. We must highlight the attitude of the team after going a goal down,” Koeman said after the game, as quoted by AS.
“Memphis has effectiveness, speed, strength. He's a great player, that's why we've signed him. You have to have personality, here the demand is better and he takes it well," Koeman added.
Barcelona may never be able to replace Messi but they need a player with the personality and character to bail the team out of difficult situations. Memphis Depay, at the moment, looks like he fits the bill.