Athletic was not there to let a victory escape for good that they had made for many minutes. And despite being heartbroken by Messi's brilliant entrance, the San Mamés public trusted their team until the last moment, to the minute 89 in which Ander Herrera managed to save a point for his team (2-2). The Barça will have to wait another week to be champion of League.
And that was to enter Messi to the field and become the light for the Barça. It took five minutes to see that the Argentine is in top form, that has spark, that his injury is forgotten. An instant was enough to see a new Maradonian goal, for time to stand still around the 10 blaugrana.
The visitors were behind Athletic Bilbao on the scoreboard and also the game for many minutes. The Barça walked desnortado, stressed and revolutionized. And that's why Tito Vilanova played it with his star, to which I had decided to book from the beginning. Xavi left the pitch and Leo Messi entered.
In his first race he crossed the entire rival field, left behind San José and attended Pedro. The canary shot Iraizoz's body, in the best Barça occasion in many minutes. It was the minute 60. The rise of the Argentine over his teammates was total. Before entering the field, the azulgraba were lost, without clear ideas, outweighed by local intensity.
That force, power, The speed of Marcelo Bielsa's men allowed them to dominate Barça during the first half. The rojiblancos enjoyed good chances, although his rival responded with a shot to the stick of Alexis. That isolated action was not enough to put fear in the body of the Basque team, that kept pressing up, with nerve, complicating the combinations of the azulgrana.
So much deployment allowed Athletic not only to leave the rival without punch, but also look for the Valdés area with danger. In one of these, taking advantage of a loss of Pedro, looking for Alves back, the lions found the veteran Aduriz, that he was able to expose Piqué with a threat. His cross shot was riveted by Susaeta, that was slightly ahead.
The 1-0 did justice to the party. Bielsa's team was being superior, He played harder and had the effectiveness that he lacked, for example the day of Real Madrid. In the Barça, that he played again with Abidal as the starter and in which they repeated up to seven players compared to the eleven that was measured at Bayern, excelled song, Alexis Sánchez and Thiago.
The Hispanic-Brazilian feels comfortable next to Xavi. The pair that form both is balanced. One organizes and the other unleashes his talent and virtues, standing a few meters ahead. Conversely, Cesc and Pedro did not find themselves.
The rest was balsamic for the Barcelona, who narrowly escaped conceding the second goal in another shot by Aduriz, able to get ahead in the jump to Piqué. Abidal, afflicted with an overload, no longer returned to the field. And in 46, Tito Vilanova ordered Messi to go out to warm up.
Barça did not finish showing their football and Athletic played comfortable. Even Susaeta sent a free kick to the post. Errors and inaccuracies occurred on the Barça side, a team too revolutionized. Vilanova did not wait any longer and gave entry to the Argentine in Xavi's position.
As soon as you enter the field, a curious situation occurred. Xavi had given the captain's armband to Piqué so that he could transfer it to Víctor Valdés. But the goalkeeper, one of the four captains of the team and that he has already announced that he will leave the club when his contract ends in 2014, He gave it to Thiago to send it to him, Finally, to Messi.
The 10 Barça was already ready to change course, the context of the match. His first start was spectacular, a demonstration that you are 100 for one hundrerd. Leo generated more in five minutes than as a team in the whole game. There were occasions for Pedro, for Alexis ...
Y, in less than 10 minutes, scored a tremendous goal. Received from Thiago, broke San José, stopped, dribbled Gurpegui, saved the pressure of Ekiza and made an impossible path to beat Iraizoz with a placed shot. It was the goal 100 of Barça in the League, the 44 of the Argentine to pay homage to a mythical stadium that this season closes its doors.
Just three minutes later, Leo Messi reappeared to assist Alexis Sánchez with his head. The Chilean signed his best game with Barça with the goal that turned the scoreboard. The attacker was prodigious in the fight, exuberant in pressure, electric dribble, swift in execution. His goal was achieved with a powerful shot.
The crash was on its way, thanks to Messi's genius and his twenty-fourth away goal this season, towards a triumph that already gave him practically to celebrate a League that he has won since January. The victory was, also, a balm after the Munich blow, the opportunity to react after the defeat against Bayern and a way to gain confidence for the second leg of the Champions League semifinals.
All these goals were diluted, but nevertheless, when Jordi Alba neglected the vigilance on Ander Herrera and the Athletic midfielder took a shot close to the post. It was him 2-2 in the minute 90, something that excited the dedicated public of San Mamés and that meant that Barça is no longer in a position to add more than 100 points in this league.