Barcelona suffered the first league defeat of the season after a 1-0 score against Athletic Bilbao. As a result of the defeat, Atletico Madrid have moved level on points with the Catalan club at the top of the table.
After going several points ahead of archrivals Real Madrid, Barcelona were expected to coast to the title. However, this defeat has proved to be a major setback since it comes only days after the defeat in the Champions League to Ajax. A lot of questions have been asked about Barcelona's style of play since the start of the season.
Gerardo Martino has been able to escape significant pressure because he has been achieving results, but another defeat could prove to be disastrous for the Argentine, who was appointed only in the summer. Javier Mascherano has become one of the important players since his £ 25 million move from Liverpool. He has said that this defeat was indeed bad for the club, but he remains confident of recovering the form that has made Barcelona incredibly successful over the last few years. It is expected that Atletico Madrid will also be a title challenger this season. They have been able to stay in touch with Barcelona up until Christmas.
"It hurts to be beaten. Nobody likes to lose but let's not forget we are still leaders. We have to win the games that are left this year, beginning with the matches against Cartagena and Villarreal," said the former Liverpool midfielder to Barcelona's official website. The club's next match will be against Cartagena. This match will be part of the Copa del Rey, which is a trophy that Gerardo Martino will be keen to win. Mascherano has largely been used as a defensive player since his move to the camp Nou and he has so far excelled in it.