After a convincing 6-2 win to start the season, Barcelona started their away season with one of the hardest trips in the league. The San Mamés has been a stadium of mixed fortune for Barcelona in the past but the sides' last meeting saw Barcelona walk away with a 2-1 win.
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With the rain pouring, the game got underway and before long Barcelona had the ball in the net. Lionel Messi found Luis Suárez loitering on the left of the box. The Uruguayan controlled the ball then slid it across for an Arda Turan tap-in. However, Suárez was flagged offside and the goal was ruled out.
It was the home side that was enjoying the lion share of possession. Pinning Barcelona in their half, they were effective in disconnecting Barça's front three from the rest of the team. With the increased pressure from Bilbao it was looking like a counter attack would be Barça's most effective attack method. Messi continued to look to break away but the persistent rain fall had made getting any pace behind the ball difficult.
One of Atheltic's game plans was to look at getting at Marc-André ter Stegen. The keeper was seeing an increasing amount of the ball due to Bilbao's high pressure and the Basques were hoping that would lead to an error. That plan came to fruition when in the 12th minute ter Stegen gifted the ball to Beñat Etxebarria. However the midfielder chose to power the ball to goal rather than place it and the keeper managed to block the effort.
Arda Turan was continuing his good start to the season and it was through him that Barcelona got the opening goal. Messi rolled the ball to Arda on the edge of the box. The Turkish player burst into the box then cut back to get the ball on his right foot. He looked up then floated the ball to the back post to find a free Ivan Rakitić. The Croatian had timed his run perfectly and rose to head the ball into the net.
Turan's continued form now poses a question of what happens when Neymar returns? Obviously you expect the Brazilian to reclaim his starting position but does that mean Turan joins the midfield three? Or is he to return to the bench?
Another player who has been impressing this season is Denis Suárez. Here, he was regularly picking up the ball and driving towards the Bilbao box. He did manage to get two shots away but they were tame efforts.
The poor conditions had slowed the tempo of the game and was making life harder for the two keepers. Ter Stegen's final test of the half was to stop an attempt from Benat which he did well by catching it low to the floor.
The referee blew the whistle for half time which gave the players a welcome chance to change into dry shirts.
After the break, Barcelona looked to press home their advantage. The possession pendulum had swung into Barça's favour and they were looking to capitalise on it. Lionel Messi wiggled his way into having a shot which was inches wide while Luis Suárez attempted a volley which sailed over. The latter was having an out of sorts game as nothing was really coming off for him.
As the second half continued, Athletic Bilbao grew back into the game which made Luis Enrique even more agitated on the sidelines. All too aware that a Bilbao goal could come at any minute and nullify his one goal lead, Enrique elected to reinforce his back line with the introduction of Javier Mascherano and Andre Gomes.
The game simmered along with Barcelona creeping towards the three points but sensing a late Bilbao attack would be coming.
One of the final scares of the game came in the 85th minute when Benat, who had been a good performer all night, stepped up for a free kick. With the angle it was taken at, you can understand why half of the home crowd and thought he had pulled them level. But, unfortunately for those fans, it was just wide.
Barcelona did manage to hang on for the win and maintain their 100% record in time for the international break.
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