Rakitic the surprise hero
Ivan Rakitic has had to put up with plenty of stick over recent seasons but he was Barcelona’s unlikely hero at the Camp Nou with his first goal of the season.
It was a pretty good finish too from the Croatian after he came off the bench and put in another decent showing to seal all three points.
Rakitic admitted after the game he was surprised it’s taken him so long to open his account this season, but a few more between now and the end of the campaign would do nicely.
Riqui Puig needs to play more
Rakitic may have made the decisive intervention against Athletic, but it was the arrival of 20-year-old Riqui Puig that made all the difference on Tuesday.
This time Setien sent him on early, replacing Arthur after 55 minutes, and it proved a good call as the lively youngster energised his team and helped inspire the victory.
His performance means he really deserves more minutes, and he’s in with a great chance of starting against Celta with Frenkie de Jong injured and Sergio Busquets suspended.
A tough night for Arthur
While Rakitic and Puig were enjoying themselves at the Camp Nou it was another tough night for Arthur after a hectic day of speculation involving the Brazilian.
He was hooked 10 minutes into the second half for Puig and had to watch as Barcelona visibly improved while he sat out the second half.
Quique Setien admitted after the game that the speculation could be affecting Arthur. He still seems determined to stay but needs to do his talking on the pitch right now.
Messi hits 250 assists but still waiting for 700
Lionel Messi once again went into the match searching for his 700th goal, and while that landmark eluded him he did hit another significant achievement.
️ - Lionel Messi's 250 assists for @FCBarcelona in all competitions— Gracenote Live (@GracenoteLive) June 23, 2020
177 - La Liga (+1)
33 - Champions League
32 - Copa del Rey
5 - Supercopa de España
2 - UEFA Super Cup
1 - FIFA Club World Cup#BarçaAthletic
Opta also noted that he’s now won 15 points from his 15 assists in La Liga so far this season which is more than any other player in Spain’s top flight.
Once again the captain played all 90 minutes, along with Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Gerard Pique, might he get a rest against Celta Vigo on Saturday?
Five clean sheets in a row for Barcelona
Barcelona found it tough going against Athletic but defensively had few troubles, apart from a scary moment when Raul Garcia probably should have equalised.
The Catalan giants have now kept five clean sheets in a row in La Liga and have not conceded since the competition resumed earlier this month.
Their defensive record is also a new high for Marc-Andre ter Stegen, as this is the first time in his Barcelona career he’s kept five consecutive clean sheets.