Barçelona hosted Athletic de Bilbao after losing the first spot to Real Madrid. Setién´s team does not depend on themselves in order to conquer the title, so they couldn´t afford to loose any other point. On the other side, the club from the Basque Country visited the Camp Nou Stadium with the goal to get a victory that could potentially puth them closer to European spots.

The start of the game was pretty entertained with several attacks by both teams: first, Athletic´s midfielder Unai López was close to surprise Barça´s keeper Ter Stegen with a cross that the German was not able to reach. Then, midfielder Sergio Busquets took a shot from a rebound by Athletic´s defense, but Yeray´s face stopped it.

Despite Barça´s try to dominate, Athletic did not fall back and showed a good level on the pitch, which made the first 25 minutes into a very intense games with constant runs by both teams where any of them could score the first goal. The match was very even, as Athletic had a very solid approach that prevented Barça from gaining depth on their ball possessions. First half ended scoreless.

After the break, Barça kept the ball, but they couldn´t create any danger, and Athletic were solid backwards and fast on the counterattack. Furthermore, Griezmann did not take advantage of the only Athletic´s defense mistake on the 53rd minute. Keeper Unai Simón´s quick reaction avoided Barça´s first goal.

The match seemed to end on a draw, as Barça´s offensive performance was very imprecise and Athletic did not manage to shoot on target either. However, Rakitic scored the winning goal for Barça on the 70th minute thanks to a great assist by Messi that the Croatian completed with an excellent finish.

After almost ¾ of the game, Barça pulled it off to get ahead on the scoreboard and break down Athetic´s defensive structure. The goal put some confidence back into Barça players and they began to finish more attacks. Athletic´s reaction came after the time out, where they went forward and almost found the equalizer from a heard by striker Raúl García. Messi also had the chance to score his goal in the last 10 minutes, but his attempts did not go on target. Ansu Fati also took a shot that hit the post in extra time. The match finished on a 1-0 score that allows Barça to return to top of the table momentarily, as they force Madrid to win their game tomorrow. Athletic, despite a strong defensive performance, will have to wait one more week to get closer o European spots.


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