Classifieds | Archives | Jobs | About TGT | Contact | Subscribe
 | 
Last updated 14 minutes ago
Printer Friendly Version | TGT@Twitter | RSS Feed |
HOME LOCAL MIDEAST ASIA WORLD BUSINESS SPORT OPINION WRITERS
Barca in a goalless draw
February 12, 2019
 Print    Send to Friend

Bilbao: Lionel Messi was short of fitness and Barcelona lacked spark as a goalless draw away to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday offered fresh hope to their rivals in the title race.

A thigh injury had limited Messi to 27 minutes against Real Madrid on Wednesday and while he played the full match at San Mames, Barca’s assistant coach Jon Aspiazu had admitted before kick-off he was not yet 100 per cent.

In all likelihood, he stayed on because his team needed him but Messi was not at his best and neither were Barcelona, who would even have lost had it not been for Marc Andre ter Stegen’s stunning late save to deny Inaki Williams.

“He saved us,” coach Ernesto Valverde said. “It was a great stop.”

The draw makes it three games without a win for La Liga’s leaders, whose advantage is still six points but now with Real Madrid their closest challengers, after they beat Atletico on Saturday.

“We were first last week and we are still first, and if my maths is right, we will be again next week,” Valverde said.

But Real’s victory at the Wanda Metropolitano was their fifth on the bounce and just as they have gained momentum, Barca appear to be losing theirs, at a crucial juncture, with more stern tests to come.

After Real Valladolid at home next weekend, Valverde’s side travel to Lyon in the Champions League and Sevilla in the league. They then face two Clasicos in four days, one in the Copa del Rey, and both at the Santiago Bernabeu.

“We are playing a lot of games at the moment and that shows,” Luis Suarez said.

“We also lacked communication today -- it is the little details that make a difference.”

Injuries have not helped either. Messi was picked but not fully recovered while Ousmane Dembele was fit enough only for the bench, having shaken off an ankle injury.

The struggling Philippe Coutinho retained his place alongside Suarez and Messi up front but Arturo Vidal came in for the injured Arthur Melo and Nelson Semedo started at left back, with Jordi Alba suspended.

Bilbao had the better of the early stages as Yuri Berchiche flashed just wide after a poor pass from Vidal while Markel Susaeta’s drive forced the leaping Ter Stegen into an acrobatic save.

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

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. Instead, Ter Stegen shot out his right hand, somehow denying the striker from eight yards.

Agence France-Presse

Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites
Comments
 
Post a comment
 
Name:
Country:
City:
Email:
Comment:
 
    
    
Related Stories
Barcelona extend Valverde contract until 2020
BARCELONA: Barcelona have extended coach Ernesto Valverde’s contract by another year until the end of the 2019-20 season with an option for one more year, the La Liga cha..
Barca cannot underestimate in-form Real: Valverde
BARCELONA: Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde believes Real Madrid are enjoying one of their best periods of the season ahead of the teams’ Copa del Rey semi-final first le..
Watch out for ‘wounded’ Real: Valverde
BARCELONA: Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde has warned his team to beware a “wounded” Real Madrid side as the hosts head into Sunday’s Clasico at the Camp Nou without the..
Messi absence a disaster for his fanatical fans
BARCELONA: Barcelona will miss Lionel Messi on Sunday -- his goals, his dribbles, his presence as much as anything -- but the angst will be gone with the help of three we..
Barca sign Malcom from Bordeaux after Roma drama
BARCELONA: Spanish champions Barcelona announced on Tuesday they have signed Brazilian winger Malcom from French side Bordeaux on a five-year deal for 41 million euros ($..
FRONTPAGE
 
GALLERY
 
PANORAMA
 
TIME OUT
 
SPORT
 
 
Advertise | Copyright