Barcelona have got six points from two games and are the leaders of La Liga heading into the international break after a tough 0-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao at San Mamés, thanks to goals from, with scoring for Bilbao. The game was as difficult as usual, but the Blaugrana were better and overcame the atmosphere and the opponent to leave the Basque Country at the top of the table.
Before I got into what happened in the first half, a quick note on referee Mateu Lahoz, who ignored a clear penalty for Barça before inventing a foul he didn't even see and booking Busquets and Luis Suarez: it's not a surprise.
Anyway, the first half was amazing. Both teams were intense, defended well and were dangerous with the ball. Athletic pressed high up the pitch during all 45 minutes, but keeper Ter Stegen dealt well with the pressure and his distribution was fantastic, as usual. When Barça did escape the pressing, they created great chances on the counter, and Ivan Rakitic took advantage of a fast break and scored the opener with a header from a great Arda Turan cross. Arda himself had a golden chance just before halftime, but missed the shot and couldn't double the lead for the Blaugrana.
At the half, a highly entertaining football match, and Barça led thanks to their talents and sound gameplan to deal with Bilbao's intensity.
The second half started just like the first, with Bilbao pressing high and Barça patiently using possession to escape the pressure and counter attack with pace. Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez had very good chances on the fast break, but couldn't find the back of the net.
Athletic made changes to become more offensive and try to find the equalizer. Raul García was one of the substitutes, and he nearly scored with a great shot that went just wide. Iñaki Williams almost found the goal in the very next play, and Bilbao were more dangerous in the second half.
Barça needed a goal to kill the game, but they couldn't and very nearly conceded the equalizer when Beñat played a fantastic free-kick to the top corner, but the ball went just wide of the post. Bilbao continued to pressure and the game was nervous until the final whistle.
In the end, a very tough game that Barça survived by playing good football, a deserved victory and the league lead going into the international break. Perfect plan.
Athletic: Iraizoz | De Marcos, Bóveda, Laporte, Balenziaga | Iturraspe (Vesga), Beñat | Williams, Eraso (García), Susaeta (Muniain) | Aduriz
Barcelona: Ter Stegen | Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti (Mascherano), Alba | Busquets, Rakitic, Denis (Gomes) | Messi, Suárez, Arda (Rafinha)
Goal: Rakitic (21')