That concludes our coverage of the LaLiga fixture between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao. We hope you enjoyed it!
Barcelona are back in action on Wednesday, when they travel to face Granada in the Copa del Rey, before visiting Real Betis in LaLiga next Sunday. Athletic meet Betis in the Copa on Thursday, before hosting Valencia in the league in seven days.
They weren’t at their best, but Koeman won’t mind as Barcelona avenge their Supercopa loss with a 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao in LaLiga. Messi’s sublime free-kick after 20 minutes opened the scoring, before Alba’s awkward own goal following a Raul Garcia cross gave the visitors some hope just after the restart. From there – Barca were in control without dominating, failing to trouble Simon for large stretches of time as they found it difficult to up their tempo in midfield. The pressure ended up paying off for the hosts though, who found the breakthrough with just over 15 minutes remaining in the match; Griezmann getting on the end of a Mingueza pass to beat the goalkeeper from close range. The win sends Barcelona up the table into second place, while Marcelino’s side stay 11th with the loss.
90′ + 4′ FULL-TIME: BARCELONA 2-1 ATHLETIC BILBAO.
90′ + 3′ Yuri has an opportunity to put a cross into the penalty area, but his tiredness tells as his weak delivery is repelled by the first Barcelona defender.
90′ + 1′ The fourth official indicates four minutes will be added to the end of the 90 for stoppages.
89′ Athletic’s Marcelino has managed 17 Laliga games against Barcelona, failing to win any of them (D6 L11). It’s his most games against an opponent without victory in the competition.
87′ A striker comes on for a winger as Dembele is replaced by Braithwaite.
86′ The late substitutions have really broken up the match, with every stoppage draining more and more time off the clock. It’s the ideal situation for Barca, who have just four minutes left to go.
84′ Looking to hold onto the victory, Koeman makes a defensive change, sending Lenglet on for Griezmann.
84′ A change at striker sees Villalibre sent on for Williams.
84′ The previously booked Capa makes way for Lekue as Athletic search for the equaliser.
82′ Griezmann has been involved in 15 goals against Athletic in LaLiga (nine scored and six assists) – more than against any other opponent in the competition.
80′ Yuri flashes a low, driven cross into the penalty area looking for Williams, but the striker is a half-step behind the delivery as he fails to reach it to turn it towards Ter Stegen.
79′ Barcelona will need to hold on for just over 10 minutes if they wish to go second, though their opponents haven’t done much to rattle the hosts’ nerve. The Athletic attack has been too one-dimensional, failing to ask the Barca defence questions.
77′ Capa is booked for bringing down Pedri cynically outside the Barcelona penalty area.
74′ Wonderful work from the Mingueza to get the assist, continuing his run down the right and overlapping Dembele, before putting a perfect low cross into the penalty area!
74′ BARCELONA RETAKE THE LEAD! It’s as simple a finish as Griezmann can hope for – meeting Mingueza’s pass across the six-yard box with a powerful first-time shot! Simon had no chance to block the shot as the Blaugrana get themselves ahead!
73′ Pedri and De Jong get their signals crossed as the former puts a dangerous ball through the Athletic defence for his midfield team-mate, but the latter fails to continue his run – letting it run out for a goal-kick.
71′ With less than 20 minutes left, Barcelona are going to have to create more from open play if they wish to take all three points. With only one shot on-target in the second half, the Blaugrana have not done enough inside the 18-yard box.
69′ Dembele is furious with the referee after going to ground in the penalty area under the weight of a Muniain challenge. In all fairness, it looked as though the Bilbao winger got nowhere near the ball, but the referee and his VAR team are happy to let play continue.
67′ Koeman looks to refresh his midfield with a change of his own, taking Pjanic off for Roberto.
67′ The first substitution of the match is made by Athletic, who replaces De Marcos with Berenguer on the right wing.
66′ It’s two swaps at once for the visitors, who also take Vencedor off the pitch, with Vesga on in his place.
64′ Barcelona are struggling to make things happen in front of goal at the minute, as their build-up play is too slow. The link between midfield and attack needs to be faster if they wish to put Messi and Griezmann in positions to score.
62′ Pjanic takes a corner short to Dembele, who immediately plays it back for Alba. The left-back’s eventual cross into the penalty area is a dangerous one, forcing Simon off his line to punch the ball away.
60′ In LaLiga, Athletic have only collected points in one of their last 16 away games at Camp Nou (D1 L15), 1-1 in September 2018, last winning at this ground in November 2001, 2-1 (D3 L15 since).
58′ WHAT A SAVE! Griezmann lifts a cross into the penalty area from the edge of the box and it’s met by Pjanic, who wedges between two defenders and forces Simon into a diving stop with his dangerous header.
57′ Barcelona almost reverse their luck and score with an own goal after Messi’s delivery is met by a backwards header from Williams – but Simon reacts quickly enough to prevent the worst-case scenario.
56′ Dani Garcia slides in and brings Messi down to the turf outside the penalty area to the right of centre. It’s in a great location for Messi’s left-footed delivery – though it’s a bit too far out for a shot.
55′ Williams tests just how much luck his side have, taking a shot from midfield after spotting Ter Stegen off his line. It’s an audacious effort from the striker, but he puts the long-range effort off-target.
53′ Athletic have a chance to put Barcelona under more pressure from a corner, but the hosts are given a free-kick for a foul in the build-up to the delivery.
52′ It definitely wouldn’t have been how Marcelino pictured it, but Athletic are back level regardless, just five minutes after the restart. They’ve barely managed to get forward in the second half, but they’ve got a slice of good luck and will be looking to capitalise on that fully. The three points are still there to be won!
50′ Alba’s match goes from bad to worse as he’s shown a yellow card after confirmation of the goal; booked for his aggressive posture towards the referee.
49′ ATHLETIC GO LEVEL IN STRANGE CIRCUMSTANCES! Raul Garcia receives a pass on the left flank and puts a cross towards the far post. Alba, the backtracking defender, slides in to push the ball away but the left-back accidentally turns it into his own net! 1-1!
47′ Just a minute after the restart, De Jong is booked for tugging Martinez back during the centre-back’s foray forward.
46′ Athletic get the match restarted from the kick-off!
Down a goal, Athletic will be forced to open up and attack Barcelona. With Berenguer available to add width, and Villalibre an option from the bench to add another striker in front of goal, Marcelino certainly has options to change the game. They must be careful, however, not to leave gaps in defence, as Dembele and Pedri are more than capable of exposing tired legs. Barca will no doubt look to get a second to add insurance to their lead, though Roberto and Lenglet are both experienced campaigners ready to hold the advantage should they be called upon.
A moment of Messi magic is all that separates the two sides at half-time, as Barcelona take a 1-0 lead over Athletic into the interval. There was little Simon could have done for the goal, as the Barcelona captain put it exactly where he wanted to – just out of reach. The hosts were definitely better on and off the ball, controlling possession as well as the tempo of play. When they upped their passing tempo, Barca looked extremely dangerous, though their incision and clinical finishing leave much to be improved. The visitors did little to trouble Ter Stegen, even after going a goal behind, as too often their passes were made obvious.
45′ + 1′ HALF-TIME: BARCELONA 1-0 ATHLETIC BILBAO.
44′ Dembele looks to get on the score sheet but he blazes an effort from just inside the penalty area high over the crossbar.
42′ Muniain swings the free-kick in towards the six-yard box, but again Mingueza enthusiastically heads it away.
41′ Vencedor is down holding his face after getting whacked in the face by Umtiti’s trailing arm. It’s a free-kick for Athletic, despite protestations from the centre-back.
39′ Yeray is shown a yellow card for words he had with the referee following his decision to award Barcelona a free-kick.
39′ More frustration for Athletic, as Vencedor gives away a free-kick, bringing De Jong down while in pursuit of the ball in midfield.
38′ Williams looks to link up with Raul Garcia on the edge of the 18-yard box, but his return pass is intercepted easily by Araujo, who keeps possession well.
36′ Alba clips a cross into the penalty area looking for the run of Griezmann, but Yeray’s powerful header puts it out for a throw-in.
34′ Messi delivers the free-kick, but the Barcelona captain is only able to find Williams, who stoops low to head away the danger.
32′ Raul Garcia has been in the wars all match, but he’s finally shown a yellow card – this time for kicking through the back of De Jong in an attempt to win the ball. He’s not happy as he retreats to the edge of his 18-yard box to defend the Barcelona free-kick.
31′ Messi bursts forward and plays a lovely leading pass down the left for Alba. The left-back immediately puts a cross into the penalty area, but the delivery is deflected and popped up high for Simon to collect.
29′ Barcelona have won just two of their last seven games against Athletic in all competitions (W2 D2 L3), losing their last match against them 3-2 in the Supercopa final on January 17.
27′ Capa makes his way towards the Barcelona penalty area and opens his body to play a pass through the lines for Williams, but Umtiti reads the situation and makes a great interception.
25′ Araujo gets in position to have a crack at goal from 18 yards out, but he drags his effort wide of the far post, leaving Simon with nothing to do but watch.
23′ The Athletic number 10 curls the set-piece to the far post looking for the head of a team-mate, but it’s Mingueza who rises highest to nod the danger away.
22′ Almost immediately after the restart, Bilbao win themselves a free-kick in a similar position to the one just scored by Messi, albeit a little further out. Can Muniain have a similar impact?
20′ WHAT A LOVELY STRIKE! ABSOLUTELY DELIGHTFUL FROM MESSI! He put it exactly where he wanted to, up and over the wall in the top-right corner – beating the goalkeeper as well as Dani Garcia, who had positioned himself by the post. 1-0 to the hosts!
18′ Messi is brought down outside the penalty area, winning a free-kick for his side, but the Barcelona captain isn’t happy with the referee, who has failed to book Vencedor for the infringement. The booking isn’t forthcoming – but perhaps the opening goal is!
16′ They’ve certainly had their chances in the opening 15 minutes, but Barcelona need to be sharper in front of goal if they wish to break the deadlock in the first half. They’ve done well upping the tempo occasionally but they’ll need to maintain that for longer stretches to break down the visitors’ defence.
14′ MESSI FLICKS IT OVER! Pjanic finds Dembele inside the penalty area, but the winger’s cross to the far post is rebuffed by a defender. It comes back out to the former Juventus midfielder, whose shot from distance gets deflected into the path of Messi – only for the Barca captain to put it over the crossbar!
12′ Raul Garcia comes flying through with a slide tackle to block Umtiti’s pass forward – but the forward only manages to catch the defender – giving Barcelona a free-kick in midfield. The striker is quite lucky to not be shown a yellow – it was a reckless slide.
10′ Looking for the counter-attack, Dani Garcia volleys a loose ball in midfield down the pitch. Williams does his utmost to reach the pass, but Umtiti gets in the way and wins a free-kick to clear his lines.
8′ Dembele speeds past Yuri and breaks into the penalty area, but a desperate last-ditch tackle from Martinez does just enough to put the winger off.
6′ MESSI DENIED BY SIMON! Griezmann’s incisive throughball releases Messi down the right, but he’s unable to put his left-footed shot past the goalkeeper, who made himself as big as possible to parry the effort.
5′ Barcelona are doing well to retain possession, but there’s a lack of movement towards goal as Pedri is once again forced to pass backwards to Umtiti.
3′ A lovely switch from Pedri releases Dembele down the right flank, but a mistimed layoff to Mingueza puts the full-back in an awkward situation – prompting him to give away a cheap free-kick.
1′ Barcelona get the match underway from the kick-off!
Athletic make two changes from their 5-1 win over Getafe in LaLiga on Monday, with the left side of defence getting an overhaul. Nunez makes way for Martinez at centre-back, while an injury to Mikel Balenziaga means Yuri gets a start at full-back.
Barcelona make two changes to the XI that beat Elche 2-0 in the league last weekend. Pjanic deputises in midfield thanks to Sergio Busquets’ suspension – while Messi returns to the side, sending Braithwaite to the bench.
ATHLETIC SUBS: Oihan Sancet, Alex Berenguer, Jokin Ezkieta, Inigo Cordoba, Unai Nunez, Ibai Gomez, Mikel Vesga, Inigo Lekue, Asier Villalibre, Unai Lopez, Jon Morcillo.
ATHLETIC XI (4-4-2): Unai Simon; Ander Capa, Yeray Alvarez, Inigo Martinez, Yuri; Oscar De Marcos, Dani Garcia, Unai Vencedor, Iker Muniain (c); Raul Garcia, Inaki Williams.
BARCELONA SUBS: Trincao, Ilaix Moriba, Neto, Matheus Fernandes, Junior Firpo, Konrad De la Fuente, Arnau Tenas, Sergi Roberto, Martin Braithwaite, Riqui Puig, Clement Lenglet.
BARCELONA XI (4-3-3): Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Jordi Alba, Samuel Umtiti, Ronald Araujo, Oscar Mingueza; Pedri, Frenkie de Jong, Miralem Pjanic; Antoine Griezmann, Lionel Messi (c), Ousmane Dembele.
With 15 minutes to go before kick-off, let’s look at how the two sides are lining up – starting with the hosts!
Despite winning the Supercopa, it hasn’t been smooth sailing for Athletic, who’ve won two of their last five league matches. Marcelino is looking to orchestrate back-to-back LaLiga victories for his 11th-placed side – a feat they haven’t managed in league play since June and July 2020.
That disappointment aside, Barcelona have put together a good run of form – going undefeated in the nine matches leading up to the final, as well as winning their three subsequent fixtures. Sitting fourth, a win would take Barcelona level with Real Madrid in second with 40 points, after the Merengues were defeated yesterday by Levante.
Barcelona are looking for revenge today as they host Athletic Bilbao in a repeat of the Spanish Supercopa final from two weeks ago when the Basque club got the better of the Blaugrana; beating them 3-2 after extra time.
Hello and welcome to our LIVE commentary of the LaLiga fixture between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao!