Barcelona 2-0 Athletic Bilbao: Player Ratings
Messi magic and dogged defending were the highlights as Barcelona sail through.
FC Barcelona welcomed Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou with their sights set on extending their unbeaten run in the league.
The first half saw the Blaugrana absolutely dominate the game and the ball. Bilbao can count themselves lucky to have gone just two goals down at the end of the half. Paco Alcacer started the proceedings with a fine poacher's goal. Lionel Messi then doubled the lead from outside of the box with a fierce strike.
The second half was more balanced as Barcelona took their foot off the pedal. They defended resolutely and often looked to counter-attack whenever they got the ball. No goals were scored in the second half.
On that note, let's take a look at how the players fared for their respective teams.
Kepa Arrizabalaga: 8/10
Quite an amazing outing just like his opposite number. Quick off his lines, it was him who stood firm and almost stopped Barca from an easy victory. Pulled a couple of saves including a fantastic stop off Messi's freekick in the first half.
Oscar De Marcos: 5/10
This was not a match he would like to remember as he was beaten quite often by Alba. Additionally, he was also disappointing in attack. If Bilbao wants to win in the next few matches, they need De Marcos firing on full throttle rather than his performance in today's match
Unai Nunez: 6.5/10
Starting the match against mighty Barca at Camp Nou, his performance was decent. Just like his defensive partner, Nunez was solid for the most part of the game. However, the gap in quality was often on display in the first half, especially the first goal where Paco was left unmarked.
Inigo Martinez: 5/10
Martinez started the match quite nervously and ended it on the same note. He went into tackles hastily and could have done much better for Alcacer's goal. His distribution was inaccurate sometimes.
Enric Saborit: 6/10
One of many Bilbao players who could not perform to their full potential. He struggled in defence as Barcelona looked quite threatening on his side of the pitch. He did not contribute much in attack too.
Mikel San Jose: 6/10
The midfielder was industrious and covered a lot of ground for his team. However, the lack of quality was quite apparent as Coutinho and Messi ran circles around him and his fellow midfielders in the first half. He did recover well in the second half and used the ball well.
Benat Etxebarria: 4/10
The Athletic Bilbao man, who enjoyed playing under Valverde, was anonymous. Playing in the midfield, he could not trouble Barcelona much and had to be taken off at halftime.
Markel Susaeta: 5/10
Though he started well, he faded as the match wore on. He did not trouble Alba much and did not quite track the runs of Alba, who looked dangerous. He should be disappointed as to how things turned out.
Raul Garcia: 5/10
The central attacking midfielder was fairly anonymous and was effectively marked out of the game by the metronomic Rakitic. Although he did improve significantly in the second half, he will look forward to improving his performance after a tough outing.
Inigo Lekue: 5.5/10
This was again a game to forget for Lekue, who has been one of the Bilbao's better player this season, barring this fixture. He struggled to cause too many problems and his final passes were poor. He failed to provide any end product as Bilbao struggled to score.
Sabin Merino: 5/10
Merino worked hard and tirelessly, but could not get better of Gerard Pique or Samuel Umtiti. His decision making was quite erratic and he never could get into any decent attacking positions or deliver a decent final ball.
Ander Itturaspe: 6.5/10
He was brought on for Etxebarria and helped Bilbao improve significantly after the break with his efficient and accurate passing.
Inaki Williams: 5/10
Brought on for Susaeta, he did not fare any better than the man he replaced. Slow and lethargic, he was contained quite easily by Barcelona defenders.
Aritz Aduriz: 6/10
Brought on with twenty minutes to play, he looked quite dangerous both in the air and on the ground. He had a late shot saved by Ter Stegen late in the game.