La Liga 2017/18; Athletic Bilbao 0-2 FC Barcelona: 5 Talking Points
Athletic Bilbao 0-2 FC Barcelona
Goals: Lionel Messi 36', Paulinho 90+2'
FC Barcelona huffed and puffed their way to victory over Athletic Bilbao in testing conditions at the San Mames Stadium. Bilbao were all over the Catalans in the second half, but were left to rue their missed chances at the end. Lionel Messi scored the first just after the half-hour mark, finishing the move which was started by him some 30-35 yards out.
Paulinho added a second in stoppage time to finish a counter-attacking move when Bilbao had committed men forward in search of an equalizer. All three points mean FC Barcelona have regained their four-point lead at the top over Valencia and on that note, here are the 5 talking points from an exciting game between Bilbao and Barcelona from the Basque country:
#1 Paulinho's influence is growing with each passing game
His €40 million move from Guangzhou Evergrande had been criticized by almost everyone but the box-to-box midfielder is slowly showing that he belongs to perform at the highest level.
Paulinho has been brilliant going forward and has chipped in with timely goals so far in the season. Against Bilbao, his final minute goal sealed the deal for Barcelona and rounded another impressive outing for the Brazilian.
The aspect of his play which is pleasing to the eye is his link-up play with Lionel Messi. Paulinho and the little genius seem to have formed a good working relationship and it shows on the field.
The one-two between the two was a crucial part of the buildup to the first goal. A player like Paulinho does not look like an ideal fit for a team like FC Barcelona, but somehow, it is working out for all the parties involved.