Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman was impressed with his men’s display when they beat Athletic Bilbao 3-2 win on Wednesday evening.
Koeman said the performance was a benchmark for the remainder of the season.
Barca fell behind in the third minute to an Inaki Williams goal but responded emphatically with goals from Pedri and a resurgent Lionel Messi either side of halftime before Iker Muniain struck late for the hosts.
“That’s the way we need to continue. I felt like we controlled the game the whole time and there were barely any dips in our play,” said Koeman after the game.
The win lifted Barca into third place in the La Liga standings and led Koeman to re-assess previous pessimistic comments about his side’s faint chances of catching leaders Atletico Madrid, who lead the Catalans by seven points with two games in hand.
“The title race is still open because the season is very long. There can be injuries, teams can have downturns and a side that looks very good can end up struggling,” he said.
The Dutchman also praised Messi, who produced arguably his best performance of the season and was unlucky not to grab a hat-trick.
The Barca captain has had a relatively poor season by his standards but the brace took him to nine goals for the campaign.
“Messi has given everything since day one, he has spent so many years at the very top level but it seems that now he has become even more effective,” added Koeman.
“He has always shown us his skill and his commitment but today he gave us his goals too.”
On 18-year-old playmaker Pedri, Koeman added: “He plays with so much maturity despite his age and most importantly he uses his head.”
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By FARPost Reporter