Despite another shaky performance, heavy rain and a tough opponent, Barcelona managed to win 3-1 at San Mamés, thanks to three goals from the midfielders: Seydou Keita, Xavi Hernandez and the in-form Sergio Busquets.
Barcelona's job was made easier by the ejection of Amorebieta (due to a vicious challenge on Iniesta) in the 34th minute. Up until that point, Barcelona had only created two chances (Villa hit the post) despite all their ball possession.
Guardiola made only one change from Wednesday's match by fielding Adriano in the starting 11. However, the Brazilian didn't impress and was replaced by Maxwell in the beginning of the second half.
Despite being one man down, Athletico Bilbao started the second half pretty strong and San José hit the woodwork. After that, however, Barcelona finally started to play "like Barcelona" and chances kept coming. In the 57th minute, Iniesta and Villa combined and the latter sent a magnificent pass the way of Keita, who slotted the ball home past Iraizoz. A magnificent play and a magnificent goal!
Barcelona kept dominating the match at ease and everyone knew that the second goal was only a matter of time. Finally, it was Xavi in the 72nd minute who did the inevitable and made it 2-0 from the edge of the area. The best midfielder in the world showed that he is back to his scintillating best and capped a fabulous performance with a goal.
When it all looked to be over, David Villa ruined an otherwise calm night for Barcelona by getting sent off in the 86th minute. His attitude was totally unnecessary. He will now miss the next league match against Mallorca.
After Villa was sent off, Athletico Bilbao managed to get one back by Gabillondo, but it was too late. In a perfectly orchestrated counter-attack, Pedro set up the sensational Sergio Busquets, who scored the 3-1 and put an end to the match.
All in all, an average performance and a good win for Barcelona, who are now in second place, only one point behind Valencia, a quite irrelevant difference at this point.
Next week, Barcelona will host Mallorca and another victory is expected. David Villa will miss that match and probably so will Lionel Messi, but Barcelona still have more than enough quality in their squad to win the match.
Before that, though, Barcelona will travel to Russia, where they'll face Rubin Kazan on Tuesday. After last season's disappointing results against the Russian team, Barcelona fans now expect a win and a convincing performance. Hopefully, the team will deliver...