Attacking without reward (0-0)
FC Barcelona and Athletic Club have drawn 0-0 at the Camp Nou in a game marked by the clearly different styles of the two sides. The quarter finalists will be decided at San Mamés in two weeks’ time.
Barcelona (FCB).- The two sides with the most cup titles behind them will be split by the return leg in a fortnight\u2019s time at San Mamés. At the Camp Nou, Barça lacked the clinical finishing of recent outings, while Athletic Club played it tight at the back and managed to record a shutout. It\u2019s not that Guardiola\u2019s didn\u2019t try. They created chance after chance, but the ultra-tight red and white defence defied them time and time again.
Athletic Club will need to find something different for the second leg, because just stopping the opponent from scoring won\u2019t be enough. A score draw of any type would be enough to see FCB go through, so the Catalans have plenty in the favour for the return in the Basque Country after Christmas.
Gorka to the rescue
The evening was a s cold as much of the football on display. Barça played their usual combination game, but seemed to be lacking their usual pace. The moves were the same, but the pace was not. All Athletic Club wanted to do was defend, and their choice of first eleven reflected that, with main striker Llorente out through injury. Caparrós has constructed a wall so tight that not even Barça seemed able to work out a way to break it down.
But Iniesta and Xavi always looked capable of danger on the edge of the area. The former tried a couple of shots, and there was another from Bojan, but that was about all the work that Gorka had to do before the break.
Enter Messi and Villa
Guardiola needed to find a new spark, and so he sent on the initially reserved Messi and Villa, but the effect was not as revolutionary as one might have expected. Barça now had Athletic Club firmly pinned back in their own half, and although it seemed inevitable that the deadlock would eventually be broken, this time Barça\u2019s domination was not transferred into goals.
No precision finishing
Nothing seemed to be going right. Crosses went just too far, players didn\u2019t quite lose their markets in time, and chances were squandered. Something always seemed to get in the way of the opening goal. Barça\u2019s passing game just didn\u2019t work in the claustrophobic space of the packed visiting penalty area. And that was the story of the second half, in which Bilbao got what they came for, and everything will now be decided when the action resumed in 2011 at San Mamés.