Knocked Barcelona out, eliminated from African Championship: Dreams exceeded that day

Posted : 25 January 2024

Just hours after Ghana concluded their tournament in Ivory Coast, Inaki Williams made a significant impact, coming off Bilbao's bench to secure a place in the semi-finals with a goal and an assist in extra time. 


Xavi pledged to leave if Barcelona is not at a competitive level by the end of the season, raising concerns for the club's title prospects. Barcelona's challenging season in La Liga took a hit as they were eliminated from the Copa del Rey, losing 4-2 to Athletic Bilbao in extra time. 


Iñaki Williams, who recently played in the African Championship with Ghana, made a swift return and played a key role in Bilbao's victory.


The 29-year-old striker, amidst a challenging personal tournament with Ghana, quickly rejoined Bilbao and orchestrated a prestigious win over Barcelona, contributing to two crucial goals in extra time. 

 

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Williams, a lifelong player for Bilbao, expressed his disbelief at the outcome, stating, "Even in my best dreams, I couldn't have imagined it." Xavi, facing uncertainty in his coaching position, reiterated his promise to leave if the team lacks competitiveness by the season's end. Despite the loss, Xavi praised the young players, emphasizing the club's future with or without him.


Xavi acknowledged the team's competitive spirit and commended the youth and academy graduates, including Lamin Yamal, who scored a remarkable goal. Reflecting on Barcelona's rebuilding phase, Xavi emphasized the importance of the emerging generation. 


The coach expressed a mix of sadness about the result and pride in the young players' performance. 


The match featured several promising talents, such as 16-year-old Yamal, 20-year-old Alejandro Balde, and substitutes Mark Gio (18), Pau Kovarsi (17), and Hector Port (17). 


Xavi recognized the strength of the opponent, Athletic Bilbao, stating that the quarter-final draw was challenging. Looking ahead, Xavi emphasized the need for Barcelona to rebuild and compete in La Liga and the Champions League.


The semi-final draw, featuring Bilbao, Real Sociedad, Mallorca, and the winner between Atletico Madrid and Sevilla, is scheduled for tomorrow (Friday).

 

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