Barcelona have now failed to win in three consecutive games following a 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao at Camp Nou. A truly fantastic match that saw both teams play really good football from start to finish ended with Munir scoring a late equalizer for Barça, who should be disappointed with the result but definitely not with the performance.
Barça started the game very brightly, with neat one-twos and passing triangles in midfield, and with Lionel Messi on the bench it was Luis Suárez who took charge of the attack and nearly scored a sensational free kick in the opening 10 minutes, but his shot went just wide of the post.
Athletic survived the early pressure and began to show their ability to counter whenever they got the ball back in wide areas. Iñaki Williams was a thorn on the side of the Barça center-backs all half, and he had two clear-cut chances to put his team ahead but couldn’t produce a quality finish.
After a bit of a dry spell, Barça’s creativity returned and they created some really good chances through Philippe Coutinho and Suárez, who was active and moving all over the final third to create for himself and others. Unai Simón had to make two fantastic saves to stop the former Liverpool teammates, and it seemed like we were destined for a goalless first half.
But in the 41st minute, after a corner wasn’t properly dealt with by the Blaugrana defense, Markel Susaeta put in a perfect cross to find Óscar De Marcos, who scored a really nice volley and put his side ahead.
At halftime, a high-level, high-quality game of football was entertaining and exciting, but Barça fans were worried about a third consecutive game without a victory. They had Messi on the bench, though...
Messi didn’t start the second half right away, but he and Sergio Busquets were warming up from the first whistle and looked ready to come on at any point. Busquets was the first as he had to replace an injured Sergi Roberto, and Messi came on for Vidal with 35 minutes to go as Valverde went all in to try and make a comeback.
Barça certainly put the pressure on and had a golden opportunity to equalize when Coutinho hit the bar and Suárez hit the rebound onto his own face with an open net, but for the most part Athletic were incredibly solid defensively and still found ways to counter attack thanks to Williams’ pace.
Valverde made one final attacking change as Munir replaced Dembélé, and the young striker made an immediate impact when he was at the right place at the right time to tap in a cross from Messi and give Barça hope for three points in the final five minutes of the match.
Barça thought they had won it when Piqué made a run into the box and found Suárez for an easy finish, but the Uruguayan couldn’t keep himself onside and the goal was disallowed. The push for a winner continued as we reached injury time, and there was a giant chance when Messi found Rakitic inside the box, but the Croatian fired his shot over the bar.
There was no more time to find a winner, and Barça had to settle for a point. It’s now three games without a win, and we have Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley next. Tough times right now.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Vidal (Messi), Roberto (Busquets), Rakitic; Dembélé (Munir), Suárez, Coutinho
Goal: Munir (84’)
Athletic: Simón; De Marcos, Yeray, Martínez (Nolaskoain), Balenziaga; Dani García, Beñat (San José); Susaeta, Raúl García, Yuri; Williams (Aduriz)
Goal: De Marcos (41’)