Barcelona faced Bilbao at Camp Nou on Tuesday. Barcelona had to be back to winning ways against Athletic Bilbao to keep up in the title race against Real Madrid. This is our exclusive Barcelona vs Athletic Bilbao match review.
It was not easy, but substitute Iván Rakitić gave Barça a critical second-half win with a goal on the 71st minute of the game.
Team Line-ups and Game Review
Our Barcelona vs Athletic Bilbao match review also includes the starting lineups of both teams.
Barca lined up in a 4-3-3 formation with Messi, Suarez and Griezmann upfront. Their midfield was made up of Arthur, Busquets and Vidal. They looked to dominate possession and managed to do so. Barca controlled 72% of the match possession. But this was not of any use they failed to open the scoring until 70minutes. Messi played in a free role and he was the main creative focal point for Barcelona in the starting minutes. Suarez and Griezmann failed to latch on the chances created.
Bilbao started in a 4-2-3-1 system with Inaki Williams upfront. They looked to defend narrow and hit Barca on counters. They got some chances through open play as both Alba and Semedo were moving upfront which leaves space behind. They looked to play out from the back and defend with a low block. They also won free-kicks in favourable position but couldn’t make them count. They missed a playmaker in the midfield. After the inclusion of Muniain, the wings became more fluid but still they failed to score.
With the games running in hard and fast, Barcelona did not manage to press the ball high with tired legs as the game progressed and Suarez blew away some initial chances. With the introduction of young Riqui Puig, Ivan Rakitic and Ansu Fati for Barcelona in the second half, Barcelona looked a lot fresher trying to win back possession and play closer to the opposition goal.
Arthur also had a good game. The deadlock was broken in the 71st minute as Rakitic picked up a ball in the box from a pass from Messi to give Barca the most anticipated 3 points. Semedo and Jordi Alba was crucial in winning the ball higher up the pitch and kept Barcelona in possession. Ansu Fati could have increased the deficit as he came close to scoring and hit the woodwork
Important 3 points for the Catalans
With Rakitic’s goal, Barca secured the important 3 points. They are now at the top of the table with 3 points ahead of Real Madrid who will be in action against Mallorca tonight. The introduction of young guns in the second half helped the defending champions to salvage some pride and carry on with the title race. Messi was brilliant as usual but it is high time for high-profile strikers like Suarez or Griezmann to step up each time.
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