Ath Bilbao 0 - 0 Barcelona | 10 Feb 2019

Sergi Roberto has been disappointing on the left

Sergi Roberto has been disappointing on the left

Barcelona were held to a goalless draw at Athletic Bilbao as they went six points clear at the top of La Liga.

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.

Barca shot-stopper Marc Andre Ter Stegen was called upon after 25 minutes to expertly tip a shot from Markel Susaeta over the top.

He outshone Sergi Roberto on the right, and validated Ernesto Valverde's decision to use him as a replacement for Jordi Alba.

Barcelona have dropped four of the last six points available, failing to capitalise on Atletico Madrid's two defeats and have therefore given Real Madrid reason to believe they can pull off a miraculous comeback in the title race.

Barca will however face Real Valladolid next weekend before their Champions League round of 16 tie against French League side Lyon the following Tuesday.

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Barca enjoyed more control in the second half after homegrown midfielder Carles Alena replaced an erratic Arturo Vidal but exhausted as the game progressed.

Indeed, had it not been for the German, they might even have left empty-handed with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez misfiring as Gaizka Garitano's men started and finished strongly. Barca enters the game in first place with 50 points and a record of 15-5-2, while Bilbao is in 13th place with a record of 5-11-6 and 26 points. Raul Garcia's finish was blocked and Mikel San Jose's effort whistled inches outside of the post.

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.

Ter Stegen made an instinctive save to keep out Williams' close-range shot after he had been picked out in front of goal by Muniain with eight minutes remaining, and although Athletic saw De Marcos dismissed for a second bookable offence in stoppage time, there was to be no late drama.

The Bilbao forward had an another glorious opportunity two minutes later, but Ter Stegen came to Barca's rescue with a superb to deny the striker in the box.

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