Barcelona maintained their unbeaten run in La Liga on Wednesday evening, as they got the better of Athletic Bilbao 3-2 away from home at San Mames.
Ronald Koeman’s side headed into the match against Bilbao on the back of a 1-0 victory over Huesca on the road and were expected to pick up all three points.
Barcelona, who last lost a competitive game back on December 8 when they went down 3-0 to Italian giants Juventus at Camp Nou in the Champions League, picked up all three points against Bilbao, but it was far from easy.
The former Spanish champions went behind after just three minutes when Inaki Williams found the back of the net.
Pedri headed the equaliser on 14 minutes, before Lionel Messi was denied by the frame of the Bilbao goal twice.
The Argentina international forward finally scored in the 38th minute when he collected Pedri’s backheel and shot past Unai Simon.
Messi doubled his tally in the 62nd minute, and just when it seemed that the Blaugrana were going to have it easy, Iker Muniain scored from 20 yards in the 90th minute for the home team to make it a tricky end for Koeman’s team.
This is how we learned from the the match on Wednesday evening:
Lionel Messi remains Barcelona main player
Messi may be 33 years of age and is out of contract at Barcelona at the end of the season, but the Argentine remains the best player at the club and probably in the world. The Argentine scored two big goals against Bilbao and could have bagged two more. There have been occasions when the forward has not played due to injury or been rested, and the Camp Nou faithful will hope that between now and the end of the season, he plays in and each game. According to WhoScored, Messi has scored nine goals and provided two assists 16 La Liga matches for Barca so far this season.
Barcelona need to do better defensively
True, Barcelona picked up all three points at San Games, but the former European champions conceded twice. Koeman’s team need to do better defensively if they are to launch a challenge for the La Liga title this season. At the moment, the Blaugrana are third favourites to become the champions of Spain, with Betfair having them at 9/1 to finish ahead of everyone else. Although Barca are shipping in one goal per game in La Liga on average, Atletico Madrid have conceded only six goals in 15 games. That is what Barca need to look to emulate in the coming weeks and months.
Another mid-table finish for Athletic Bilbao
The defeat to Barcelona means that Bilbao are now ninth in the La Liga table with 21 points from 18 matches. Marcelino’s side are three points behind seventh-placed Granada, who have played 16 games. Los Leones finished 11th in the league table last season and eight in 2018-19, and there is a very good chance that they will end up in a similar position this time around as well.
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