Having beaten Barca recently in Copa del Ray, Athletic Bilbao visited Camp Nou full of confidence with plans to pull off an upset. However, despite troubling Barca a bit early on in the game, the never looked much like winning.
It was Paco Alcacer’s first La Liga goal in 11 appearances for the Catalan giants which opened the scoring for FC Barcelona, who thereafter completely dominated the match.
Lionel Messi then went on to score his fourth freekick of the year, third against Bilbao as Barcelona went on to double their lead. They then put the match to bed with a fine solo goal from Aleix Vidal, who continued his resurgence in the team.
Let’s have a look at how the players from both the teams performed in this clash between the Catalan and Basque giant.
Ter Stegen: 7.5/10
The German shot-stopper was at the top of his game. He made a couple of good saves and also distributed the ball well.
Gerrard Pique: 5/10
Did not look his usual self and was caught on the ball at the edge of his box, quite unlike him. He was substituted for Javier Mascherano at half time.
Samuel Umtiti: 7/10
Did look a bit unsettled to start with and even gave the ball away at one occasion, however, he turned things around at half time and looked quite solid at the back.
Aleix Vidal: 8/10
He is enjoying a dream run at the moment and today was no different. He absolutely bossed the right-hand side for Barcelona and even scored a solo goal.
Jeremy Mathieu: 7.5/10
The veteran Frenchman had a solid outing at left back today. He gave no joy to any Bilbao attacker and made some decent runs into Bilbao’s half.
Andre Gomes: 7/10
Filling in for Busquets is a tough task for any defensive midfielder around the globe. But Gomes did that job decently as he recycled the ball well. However, he was caught in possession couple of times, though luckily for Barca, nothing much materialised for Bilbao from those mistakes.
Given a rare start, the Brazilian midfielder was decent for the time he was on the pitch. He did some dirty works as well and helped keep possession. Unfortunate to go out with a bloody face.
Arda Turan: 8.5/10
The Turk was an absolute livewire for the Bilbao midfield to handle as he ran the show. He recovered balls, won headers and set up attacks quite at will. One of his best performance in Barca midfield.
The Brazilian had an almost perfect game. He continuously left Bilbao players in his wake and created quite a few chances for his teammates, including an assist for Paco Alcacer. It would have been a 10/10 game had he scored one himself.
Paco Alcacer: 7.5/10
Guided home a beautiful finish at the near post, as he scored his first league goal for Barca. Apart from the goal his movements were also good.
Lionel Messi: 8/10
The Argentine Maestro had a good night as he scored another goal from a free kick. Though not quite his usual self, he still provided sparks of magic when needed.
Javier Mascherano: 7/10
Coming on for Pique at half time, he slotted well at centre-back and made some good clearances and tackles for Barca.
Ivan Rakitic: 6.5/10
Coming on in the 54th minute for an injured Rafinha, he kept things simple. He even had a few long-range efforts at the goal.
Sergi Roberto: 6/10
Slotted in for Messi, he played well at the right-back position. Defensively, he was solid and did not venture out much.
A disappointing outing for the Basque goalkeeper as he was at fault for Messi’s goal and was also beaten by Paco Alcacer for his goal at his near post.
San Jose: 5/10
Not quite a game he would like to remember, as he could not protect his back four as well as he usually does. He was eventually substituted for Benat.
Aymeric Laporte: 6/10
He made some important challenges and interceptions as he commanded his area well, though he was not quite given the level of protection that he has come to expect from his midfield.
He struggled defensively as Aleix Vidal and Leo Messi constantly troubled him throughout the match. Offensively too, he had a timid game.
His work rate was good as he constantly pressed the Barca players. However, in terms of individual quality, he was not quite up there for a game of this tempo.
Yeray Alvarez: 6/10
Yeray Alvarez had a strong game as he marked his comeback after being out with testicular cancer. He was strong in defence and made some important clearances and headers throughout the game.
Iturraspe struggled to have any say in the midfield for the Basque side. His set-pieces were not up to the mark and his overall game too was not quite up to the level that is warranted in the clash between the Basque and the Catalan side.
De Marcos: 4/10
He would like to forget today’s game as soon as possible, as he was run ragged by Neymar throughout the game. He was invisible offensively too.
Raul Garcia: 6.5/10
The former Atletico man had a decent outing and troubled Barca defence quite a few times but was guilty of being wasteful in converting whatever chances that fell in his way.
Iker Muniain: 5.5/10
This talented Spanish player, like his teammates, too was not up to the mark for the game of this stature. Though he did show flashes of brilliance, his performance left something more to be wanted.
Inaki Williams: 6.5/10
He was the most effective of Bilbao attackers as he troubled Barca defence quite a few times with his pace. He had a couple of chances at goals which he lashed into the side netting.
Aritz Aduriz: 5/10
He came on for Lekue, as Bilbao looked to their talisman for a turn around in this game. However, he was well marshalled by Barca defence and was kept constantly at bay.
He was brought on for Mikel San Jose but struggled to control the midfield and create some chances for the Basque side.
Coming on in the 73rd minute, he did get a chance at goal late in the game which he dragged wide.