Barcelona remain unbeaten in La Liga and will be on top of the table for another week thanks to a very difficult 2-0 win away to Athletic Bilbao. In what was a very tense game from start to finish, the Blaugrana managed to defend a narrow lead in the second half and will leave the San Mamés with a win and a clean sheet. Not bad.
The first half was action-packed: both teams looked to attack from the start, and what promised to be a physical battle was actually a pretty entertaining game. Barça started slowly and needed time to establish control of the game, but once they did the chances started coming, including an unbelievable miss from Lionel Messi who rounded the keeper but hit the post.
Athletic also had their chances, the biggest of them when Aritz Aduriz was through on goal and one on one with Marc-André ter Stegen, but the Bilbao striker’s shot was weak and straight to Ter Stegen. Barça were clearly the better team at the end of the half, and after a wonderful passing sequence Jordi Alba found Messi inside the box, and this time Leo couldn’t miss: 1-0 Barça.
At halftime, a very entertaining game of football had Barça ahead, but the game was far from over.
Barça looked to keep possession and not concede any dangerous chances in the second half, and the plan worked. The Blaugrana managed to avoid trouble by controlling the ball inside Bilbao’s half and even created some good chances, but a combination of timely blocks from Athletic and poor finishing from Barça kept the score at 1-0 heading into the last 15 minutes.
Bilbao stepped up the pressure at the end of the game, as expected, and Ter Stegen had to make a wonderful save after a corner to keep the clean sheet. The final five minutes were very nervous, but Barça managed to double their lead with Paulinho and kill the game in the last minute.
This was tough, but it’s always tough at the San Mamés. Barça had a good performance at a difficult ground and were able to defeat a really strong opponent in their home. You know, this team is not that bad.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Paulinho; Messi, Gomes (Semedo); Suárez
Goals: Messi (36’), Paulinho (90’+2)
Athletic: Kepa; Bóveda, Nuñez, Laporte, Lekue; Iturraspe, San José (Beñat); Williams (Susaeta), Raúl García, Córdoba; Aduriz