LaLiga Report: Athletic Bilbao v FC Barcelona 10 February 2019

Barcelona

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.

Barca coach Ernesto Valverde was still upbeat about his side's position in the title race, even though in the last nine days they have dropped four 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. Messi was picked but not fully recovered while Ousmane Dembele was fit enough only for the bench, having shaken off an ankle injury.

Barcelona settled into the game but were never in control. Still, they twice should have scored, with Messi and Suarez both guilty of missing.

First, Suarez peeled free at the back post but glanced wide from Messi's cross and then Messi hit the crossbar, the goal gaping after Iago Herrerin had rushed out to intercept Nelson Semedo.

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Bilbao made the game's first change, with midfielder Mikel San Jose replacing Benat Etxebarria on 57 minutes, while the Catalans responded with their first adjustment, with Carles Alena taking the spot of Vidal.

Substitute Mikel San Jose blasted just wide as the home side finally managed to put together a second-half attack with 65 minutes gone and Williams saw an audacious flick from De Marcos' cross blocked six minutes later.

Dembele replaced Coutinho with just over 10 minutes left but Bilbao had the best chance to win it. Iker Muniain squared for Williams, who looked certain to score after wriggling free of Gerard Pique.

Bilbao had De Marcos sent off for a second bookable offence - deliberate handball - in the final moments, but Barcelona, who were denied a late penalty by VAR, could not find a victor as they failed to triumph for the third match in succession.

Ter Stegen was first called into action by a long-range strike from Susaeta, the German flying towards the top right corner to tip the ball over the bar with his left hand.

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