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20.10.2008 12:27

More than one way to win

Jordi Clos

After producing some dazzling football in previous encounters, Barça rolled up its sleeves yesterday to get an away win at a tough ground like San Mamés. Guardiola’s men opted for a more physical approach to counter the home side’s strengths.

In spite of the 6-1 win in its previous match, the international break and Bilbao’s traditional way of playing at home turned the San Mamés clash into a real test of Barça’s mettle (0-1). Two of the creators of the thrashing of Atlético Madrid and Barça’s electric playing style, Messi and Xavi, sat out the game as Guardiola brought in more physical players.

More physical midfield

Thus Barça’s midfield line-up was made up of Touré Yaya, Víctor Sánchez and Keita. When the Mali international left the field injured after half an hour, Sergio Busquets came on to bring the solidity required to take on and beat Bilbao. Without Xavi there to hold the reins, the three midfielders’ all-round game enabled them to hold the line and make a contribution in defence and in attack.

Eto'o on target

ZUERAS._WEB_ATHLETIC_CLUB_DE_BILBAO-BARCELONA_19-10-08_029.JPGWith all parts of the team working hard, Barça were able to take all three points with an Eto'o goal in the second half, made possible by an exceptional assist from Henry. The Cameroon striker is on a roll with six strikes in the last five League matches. He has also found the net twice with his national side.

Valdés keeps clean sheet

In addition to being lethal in their opponent’s penalty area, Barça was also massively solid in defence. Bilbao’s only two dangerous goal attempts came in the first half and Valdés blocked both of them. Guardiola was full of praise at the end of the game for his keeper, who kept a clean sheet for the first time in the League this season.
More than one way to win
0-1 two years on
The final score is by no means unusual, but curiously enough Barça hadn’t won away from home 0-1 in the League since the 2005/06 season. In that campaign on 3 May 2006 they won by the only goal of the game at Celta Vigo to become League champions for the second year in a row.

The only 0-1 score line last season came in the quarter finals of the Champions League away at Schalke 04.

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