Messi and Paulinho scores as Barca emerged victorious over Bilbao in San Mames
San Mames was never an easy place to visit for Barca who struggled against them multiple times in previous seasons.However this time around Valverde’s men have done the job efficiently to remain in the top spot in La liga.Lionel Messi and Paulinho fired FC Barcelona to a 2-0 win over a spirited Athletic Bilbao.
Barca came to the match with confidence in their bag with their fantastic unbeaten run in the start of the season.Bilbao however was struggling under the new manager.But in the opening miniutes Bilbao started press higher to keep the pressure on Barca midfield.
The game got off to a frantic start,with plenty of early chances for both teams. Aritz Aduriz squandered a golden one in the 19th minute when he got through on goal, but failed to put the ball past Marc-André ter Stegen.
Two minutes later, Messi of all people wasted an even better opportunity. After some superb build-up play from Paulinho and Luis Suárez, Messi got the ball and danced into the six-yard area. However, with only Kepa to beat, he inexplicably hit the post.
Barca then gained the momentum in the midfield with quick counters which was difficult for Bilbao to defend.Messi atoned for his error 36 minutes in, getting on the end of a low ball played in by Jordi Alba from the left and nestling it in the goal.The Argentine continued his superb start to season by scoring his 12th goal in La Liga.In the 40th minute, Paulinho could have doubled the lead after having been teed up by Messi, but his shot struck the post.
Paulinho and Messi combination is just too much to handle for Bilbao on that time.The first half ended in 1-0.
But in the second half Bilbao came up with all guns blazing.Completly took the control in midfield by their hard pressing they started to create problem for Barca defence.
In the 53rd minute, Bilbao went within inches of equalising. Raúl García rose up to meet a corner with his head and fired the ball into the crossbar.
Athletic continued to cause problems for the Barcelona defence, but failed to find the killer final ball.
Ter Stegen was key for the visitors, with his best save coming in the 85th minute to keep out an Aduriz header.
Inaki Williams,Aduriz tried thier best but was not able to get past the German Keeper who was in great form under the bar.
But once again the Argentine made the difference between two teams as with pace and vision he found Luiz Suarez,but his shot was blocked the Atlectico keeper only to fell as a tap in for
Paulinho,who didn’t made any mistake by scoring his third goal of the campaign.The Brazilian is now showing his value to the squad.
Lionel Messi once again named the man of the match.He was selected as man of the match for 12th time in last 13 games.
With Andres Iniesta missing through injury, Neymar gone, Luis Suarez badly off form and Ousmane Dembele sidelined, it was all about Messi in this match – just as it has been so often in the past.
Madrid travel to Girona on Sunday in a game that was under threat due to safety concerns after the declaration of independence in Catalunya on Friday and coach Pablo Machin was asked about Ronaldo and Messi ahead of that game.
“They are two very good footballers and two amazing teams,” he said. “But there’s a greater dependency on Messi at Barcelona than Cristiano at Madrid.” And he added: “When Messi doesn’t score, he gives an assist or starts the play.”
That is exactly what he did. He started the moves and finished the first, before setting up the second as well. As a playmaker and a forward, he is independent from the rest right now and his fantastic form means Barcelona are untouchable too in La Liga at the moment.
Catalunya might not need Spain to prosper in future, but Barcelona depend on their main man more than ever. Welcome to the Republic of Messi!
On Target: 5-5
Yellow Cards: 1-4
Red Cards: 0-0