Athletic Bilbao hold Barcelona at San Mames

11 Février, 2019, 11:51 | Auteur: Adelaide Bullion
  • Gaizka Garitano needs to rally his troops after last week's tough loss to Real Sociedad

Barcelona have handed Real Madrid a boost with their goalless draw against Athletic Club, as their lead at the top of LaLiga Santander is now just six points.

Real Madrid beat Atletico Madrid in the capital derby on Saturday to move into second spot, just five points behind Barca ahead of kickoff at San Mames.

The hosts were the better team and Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen pulled off excellent saves to deny Markel Susaeta and Inaki Williams.

Ernesto Valverde's men returned in much more positive mood and Messi curled a 53rd-minute free-kick just over, although the Argentina worldwide was growing increasingly irritated by Bilbao's physical approach to marking him.

Barca will however face Real Valladolid next weekend before their Champions League round of 16 tie against French League side Lyon the following Tuesday.

"We were first last week and we are still first, and if my maths is right, we will be again next week", Valverde said.

Ousmane Dembele made his recovery from an ankle problem as a 75th-minute substitute, taking the place of Coutinho, whose problems in a Barcelona shirt continued.

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The struggling Philippe Coutinho retained his place alongside Suarez and Messi up front but Arturo Vidal came in for the injured Arthur Melo and Nelson Semedo started at left back, with Jordi Alba suspended.

Williams had a wonderful chance to send Bilbao ahead in the 80th minute when the forward met a free kick from Muniain, but the ball flew just wide of the post, before the in-form Spain worldwide fired straight at Ter Stegen from another Muniain pass moments later. Still, they twice should have scored, with Messi and Suarez both guilty of missing.

Lionel Messi had Barca's best chance as his lob from outside the box hit the top of the crossbar.

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

Bilbao had a golden chance to take the lead 25 minutes from time when San Jose found space in a unsafe position, but the midfielder's effort just missed the post.

The home side finished the game with ten men after Oscar De Marcos received a second yellow card and was sent off in stoppage time, as the encounter ended goalless at San Mames.

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