‘Lack of communication’ is hurting Barca – Suarez
Luis Suarez bemoaned a lack of communication among Barcelona’s players as the La Liga leaders dropped points for the second week running after being held to a goalless draw by Athletic Bilbao on Sunday. Barca missed the chance to move eight points clear of second-placed Real Madrid, but did manage to restore their six-point gap at the top thanks to two stunning saves from Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
The Catalans failed to create any clear-cut chances of their own despite Lionel Messi returning to the starting lineup. The Argentine injured his thigh in last week’s draw against Valencia and was only fit enough for the bench for the Copa del Rey draw with Real Madrid in midweek.
“There was a lack of communication in the first half,” Suarez told reporters after the game. “That’s something we have to improve. We lost balls, we didn’t speak. We have to ask for the ball more. It’s the little details [that count].”
Barca, who have now drawn their last three games in all competitions, looked tired in what was their 11th game in the last 36 days. For the first time in 2019, though, they now have a free midweek before Saturday’s fixture at Camp Nou against Real Valladolid.
“We’re on the back of a run of a lot of matches and maybe that was a plus for [Athletic],” Suarez added. “They were better rested for the game. But we created chances. Both teams had chances. I don’t know if a draw is fair. Both teams did enough to win.”
Goalkeeper Ter Stegen, whose saves from Markel Susaeta and Inaki Williams ensured Barca earned a point, also felt a difficult fixture list contributed to his side’s problems in Bilbao.
“Maybe there’s an element of tiredness because of the schedule,” he conceded. “February’s a loaded month. I think everyone’s happy that we can now rest for one or two days. After that little break, we can come back and look at what went wrong and where we need to improve.”
Athletic coach Gaizka Garitano was left with mixed feelings after taking a point from the league leaders.
“It’s always good to get a point against a side like Barcelona but we had the better chances and created more danger — Ter Stegen was sensational for them,” he told a news conference. They have a great goalkeeper who made two great saves, but we are happy with getting a point and the work our players put in.”