Barcelona board criticizes team’s lack of ambition in draw against Athletic

Robert Lewandowski in action agains tAthletic Club / Getty Images
Robert Lewandowski in action against Athletic Club / Getty Images

Barcelona’s board also believed that the team had a lack of ambition in the match against Athletic Club on Sunday.

Last Sunday, FC Barcelona had the opportunity to firmly enter the title race in La Liga at San Mamés. Real Madrid’s stumble against Valencia at Mestalla the day before (2-2) and Girona’s defeat in Mallorca just before the match at The Cathedral meant that Barcelona could move up to second place in the standings, trailing the leader by just six points, with a visit to the Santiago Bernabéu still pending. However, Barcelona not only failed to get past a goalless draw but also managed just one shot on target: a long-range effort from Cancelo that was almost cleared off the goal line by Yeray.

This led Xavi Hernández, Barcelona’s coach, to express his frustration, first on the pitch immediately after the match, and later in an interview with TV3, where he explained that “it is incomprehensible not to have shown more ambition,” referring to the failure to capitalize on Madrid and Girona’s slip-ups. “We should have shown more ambition,” noted the coach, who later clarified his remarks in the press conference, explaining that “perhaps the word is not ambition but rather believing more in what we are doing, having more faith. We lacked that fighting spirit to say ‘let’s go for the win,’ hence today’s feeling of disappointment.”

Whether or not Xavi maintained the concept of “lack of ambition” in his players to secure three points at San Mamés, against an Athletic side full of substitutes and who had emptied themselves just three days earlier in the Copa del Rey to eliminate Atlético in the semifinals, according to Roger Torello of Mundo Deportivo the club’s top brass believe that the team lacked ambition. Key figures within the club cannot understand why the players did not come out aggressively against Athletic, with the opportunity to close the gap in La Liga and get within six points of Real Madrid. According to Roger Torello of Mundo Deportivo, these same sources admit state that the team may have been affected by the injuries of De Jong and Pedri, but nonetheless, they missed seeing more determination to score against the opposition’s goal.