Athletic Bilbao hold Barcelona at San Mames

Aubrey Yates
February 11, 2019

Concerns were raised on Sunday, February 10, after Barcelona were forced to 0-0 draw at Athletic Bilbao in which Lionel Messi failed to give his side the victory.

While they still boast a six-point lead at the top, now over Real Madrid instead of over Atletico Madrid, they have some very hard fixtures up ahead.

Champions Barcelona, who are unbeaten in 11 league games, missed the chance to go eight points above second-placed Real Madrid, who beat Atletico 3-1 in the capital derby on Saturday.

The game was frantic and Bilbao were more than holding their own.

In all likelihood, he stayed on because his team needed him but Messi was not at his best and neither were Barcelona, who would even have lost had it not been for Marc Andre ter Stegen's stunning late save to deny Inaki Williams.

Barcelona's first real chance of the night arrived in the 22nd minute when Messi curled a attractive pass towards Luis Suarez, but the Uruguay global just could not get the touch which would have surely made it 1-0.

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Ter Stegen had to pull off a fine save to keep out Susaeta's curling left-foot shot six minutes later and Barcelona were less than comfortable in dealing with the two corners which followed in quick succession.

Bilbao had another excellent chance just before the 30-minute mark when Yeray Alvarez met a free kick from Benat, but his effort was just deflected over the Barcelona crossbar.

The visitors' first sight to goal arrived with seven minutes left in the first half, as Lionel Messi ventured forward to force a sterling save out of Iago Herrerin.

Barcelona were much more positive at the start of the second half, with Coutinho having a powerful strike blocked en route to goal during a period where the Spanish champions were dominating the play.

As a result, Barca coach Ernesto Valverde made first change in the 63rd minute as Carles Alena came on for Vidal in a straight swap in midfield.

Suarez glanced a 22nd-minute header wide from Messi's inviting cross as Barca responded, but Ter Stegen was called upon once again to keep out Raul Garcia's acrobatic volley two minutes later.

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