Barcelona will finish the weekend six points clear at the top of La Liga thanks to a 0-0 draw with Athletic Bilbao at the San Mamés on Sunday. This game was as tough as advertised, but the Blaugrana didn’t help themselves with a very poor performance, and they only got a valuable point on the road thanks to an incredible game by goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen, who was Man of the Match by a couple of miles.
From the very first minute Athletic were the better team and made it clear to Barça they were taking the game to them. Iñaki Williams and Raúl García were huge problems for the Blaugrana defense, and ter Stegen was forced to make some really good saves, including a truly incredible left-handed stop on a beautiful curling shot by Markel Susaeta.
Barça did not look good with the ball, passing it sideways too much and always giving it away when pressured in midfield. Lionel Messi was the one bright spot in the attack for the visitors, and he was responsible for his team’s only shot on target in the first half.
At halftime, Athletic dominated, Barça played terrible, and somehow the score was 0-0. Which was good for Barça, but they needed to play better to score and win.
Barça looked a little better to start the second half, having more of the ball and controlling Athletic’s counter attacks. They also passed the ball better, which helped, and more players started to get involved instead of it being just Messi trying to do it all. They still needed a creative spark to find a goal, and Ousmane Dembélé came off the bench to try and help the team in his return.
Athletic were dead for most of the second half, but they had to huge chances through Iñaki Williams, who headed a cross wide of the mark and then had a one-on-one with Ter Stegen and could not beat the keeper (another incredible save by MATS). As we reached the final five minutes we seemed destined for a draw, and not even De Marcos being sent off for a second yellow card helped Barça find a winner.
Barça deserved to lose, and they didn’t because they have a truly great goalkeeper. It’s really that simple.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Piqué, Lenglet (Vermaelen), Semedo; Rakitic, Busquets, Vidal (Aleñá); Messi, Suárez, Coutinho (Dembélé)
Athletic: Herrerín; De Marcos, Yeray, Martínez, Balenziaga; Susaeta (Muniain), Dani García, Beñat (San José), Yuri; Raúl García; Williams (Kodro)