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Five talking points from Barcelona’s win over Athletic Bilbao

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Barcelona v Athletic Club - La Liga Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

It’s a game of two halves

Barcelona played some of their best football of the season in the first half against Athletic as they simply blew the visitors away and had the game pretty much wrapped up by the break.

Paco Alcacer scored a superb first goal, Lionel Messi got the second, Kepa Arrizabalaga was a busy boy and Barca also managed to his the woodwork three times.

The second half was a different matter altogether as Barca eased off and maybe their midweek exertions caught up with them a little too. Ultimately it didn’t matter as the three points were in the bag along with another clean sheet and the title one step closer.

Barcelona’s woodwork curse continues

Barcelona v Athletic Club - La Liga Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Of course the scoreline could have been more emphatic if not for the goalframe which denied Paulinho and Philippe Coutinho twice.

Rather incredibly Barcelona have now managed to hit the woodwork an astonishing 38 times this season.

Bad luck or bad finishing? Probably a little bit of both but it’s still an extraordinary statistic particularly as Barcelona already have 74 goals from 29 games.

Rakitic and Alcacer ensure Suarez and Busquets aren’t missed

Barcelona v Athletic Club - La Liga Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

There were a few concerns going into this game with Sergio Busquets out injured and Luis Suarez missing through suspension.

Paco Alcacer was recalled and showed his worth with the opener and Barca certainly looked slick in attack even without Suarez.

Meanwhile, Ivan Rakitic put in another masterclass in midfield to ensure that Busquets also wasn’t missed, and that takes some doing.

Another assist for Dembele

Barcelona v Athletic Club - La Liga Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Another start and another assist for Ousmane Dembele who is steadily growing into his role at Barcelona.

The youngster has made real strides in recent weeks and now looks set to play an important role between now and the end of the season.

Valverde praised him after the game but said he “still has a lot of room for improvement” and it’s sure going to be fun watching him develop at the Camp Nou.

A lot of love for Iniesta

Barcelona v Athletic Club - La Liga Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Andres Iniesta surprised everyone after the Roma game by admitting he could leave Barcelona, despite signing a lifetime contract last year.

He was left on the bench against Athletic but came on in the second half and the Camp Nou made their feelings plain as they chanted for him to stay.

After the game both Valverde and Marc-Andre ter Stegen urged the midfielder to remain at the club, but will it be enough to convince him to stay?