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La Liga 2018-19: Lionel Messi’s Barcelona Play Stalemate Against Athletic Bilbao to Give Fresh Hope to League Rivals Real Madrid

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Lionel Messi was wanting health and Barcelona lacked spark as a goalless draw away to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday provided recent hope to their rivals within the title race. A thigh harm had restricted Messi to 27 minutes in opposition to Actual Madrid on Wednesday and whereas he performed the complete match at San Mames, Barca’s assistant coach Jon Aspiazu had admitted earlier than kick-off he was not but 100 per cent.

In all probability, he stayed on as a result of his group wanted him however Messi was not at his finest and neither have been Barcelona, who would even have misplaced had it not been for Marc Andre Ter Stegen’s gorgeous late save to disclaim Inaki Williams. The draw makes it three video games with no win for La Liga’s leaders, whose benefit continues to be six factors however now with Actual Madrid their closest challengers, after they beat Atletico on Saturday.

That was Actual’s fifth league victory on the bounce and simply as they’ve gained momentum, Barca look like shedding theirs, at an important juncture, with extra stern assessments to come back.

After Actual Valladolid at residence subsequent weekend, Ernesto Valverde’s facet journey to Lyon within the Champions League and Sevilla within the league. They then face two Clasicos in 4 days, one within the Copa del Rey, and each on the Santiago Bernabeu.

Accidents haven’t helped. Messi was picked however not totally recovered whereas Ousmane Dembele was match sufficient just for the bench, having shaken off an ankle harm.

The struggling Philippe Coutinho retained his place alongside Luis Suarez and Messi up entrance however Arturo Vidal got here in for the injured Arthur Melo and Nelson Semedo began at left again, with Jordi Alba suspended.

Bilbao had the higher of the early levels as Yuri Berchiche flashed simply broad after a poor go from Vidal whereas Markel Susaeta’s drive compelled the leaping Ter Stegen into an acrobatic save. Barcelona settled into the sport however have been by no means in management. Nonetheless, they twice ought to have scored, with Messi and Suarez each responsible of lacking.

First, Suarez peeled free on the again submit however glanced broad from Messi’s cross after which Messi hit the crossbar, the objective gaping after Iago Herrerin had rushed out to intercept Nelson Semedo.

The sport was frantic and Bilbao have been greater than holding their very own. Raul Garcia’s end was blocked and Mikel San Jose’s effort whistled inches exterior of the submit.

In between, Barca had loved their finest spell in the beginning of the second half however the gaps all the time appeared to shut across the penalty space and so they struggled to discover a means by means of.

Dembele changed Coutinho with simply over 10 minutes left however Bilbao had the perfect likelihood to win it. Iker Muniain squared for Williams, who seemed sure to attain after wriggling freed from Gerard Pique. As a substitute, Ter Stegen shot out his proper hand, someway denying the striker from eight yards.

De Marcos obtained a second yellow card in injury-time for a handball however there was no time for Barce to really feel the profit. Bilbao held on.

(With Company Inputs)

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