Athletic Bilbao Hold Barca Despite Messi Return

Lionel Messi’s return to the starting line-up was not enough to prevent Barcelona drawing a third successive match across all competitions, as Athletic Bilbao held out for a 0-0 stalemate at San Mames in LaLiga.

 

Argentina superstar Messi was only named among the substitutes for Wednesday’s 1-1 Copa del Rey draw against Real Madrid having struggled with a thigh injury and he looked a little off colour as Barca end the weekend just six points clear of Los Blancos in second.

 

Athletic edged an entertaining first half and went close on a couple of occasions, while Barca appeared to be missing the talents of Arthur in midfield Arturo Vidal failing to impress in a similar role to the injured Brazilian, who faces a month out.

 

Ernesto Valverde’s side had little luck creating clear-cut opportunities in the second half albeit Nelson Semedo was contentiously denied a last-gasp penalty and could have even have lost as Athletic, who had Oscar De Marcos sent off for a second bookable offence in injury-time, went close twice late on.

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