Barcelona took over second place in La Liga thanks to goals from Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann in their 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou on Sunday.
Messi opened the scoring with a stunning free kick in the 20th minute. Athletic equalized in the second half through an own goal by Jordi Alba.
Griezmann scored the winning goal after 15 minutes by converting a cross from Oscar Minges, extending Barca’s unbeaten run in La Liga to ten games.
Barca may not win La Liga this season – they are ten points behind leaders Atletico Madrid and have played one more game – but as coach Ronald Koeman said on Saturday, they will keep fighting. Sunday’s win over Athletic is their fifth consecutive La Liga victory and moves them into second place ahead of Real Madrid on goal difference.
Messi’s free kick was the 650th goal. On the same day, sources told ESPN that he would take legal action against El Mundo newspaper and the person behind the leak of details of his possible new contract this weekend, which revealed a four-year contract worth up to €555 million.
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Barca still seem weak at the back and can’t put teams in their place. They played well in the first half, but only scored one goal for their efforts and fell behind early in the second half. In the end, they held on for three points and had four minutes of rest.
Manager’s rating out of 10
6 — Koeman has found a system that has proven itself in recent weeks, so the only changes have been in personnel : Miralem Pjanic replaces the suspended Sergio Busquets and Samuel Umtiti replaces Clement Lengliet. The Dutch coach preferred to defend instead of scoring a third goal.
Player rating (1-10; 10 = best. Players registered after 70 minutes receive no rating)
GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 7 — We made few stops, but we did well against Athletic’s centers.
DF Oscar Minges, 6 — Raul Garcia was behind him in scoring the goal for Athletic, but he redeemed himself by letting Griezmann score the winning goal.
DF Ronald Araujo, 7 — He nearly scored a goal in the first half when he took the lead shortly after the break. Well done on the back.
DF Samuel Umtiti, age 7… His quality on the ball is a huge asset to this Barca team. But now he has to prove himself defensively in a series of games. It was his third consecutive championship, which is a good start.
DF Jordi Alba, 6 years — Too bad he was pushed to his own goal, but he should have defended better.
MF Miralem Pjanic, 6 — Forced Unai Simon to stop at a header before being replaced midway through the second half.
MF Frenkie de Jong, 7 — Played deeper than lately to make up for Busquets’ absence, but still found time to make a great run forward in the first half.
MF Pedri, 7 — The teenager has shown in recent weeks that he can play offensively; against Athletic, he also showed how to perform his defensive duties. Wireless.
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi was beaten 2-1 in the league match against Athletic Bilbao. Getty Images
FW Ousmane Dembele, 7 — Provided constant acceleration from stationary position and played a clever pass to Mingueza on the climb to Griezmann’s goal.
FW Antoine Griezmann, 7 — He nearly scored two goals with assists to Messi and Pjanic before finishing well to score the winning goal.
FW Lionel Messi, 8 — Started the game well, parried a shot from Simon and put another half chance on top of the net. He opened the scoring with a fine free kick, his 16th of the season. goal of the season in all competitions and the 650th of his Catalan career, and was Barca’s best player that night.
MF Sergi Roberto, 6… Returns to midfield after a two-month injury.
DF Clement Lenglet, NR — Koeman put the Frenchman as an extra defender at the end.
FS Martin Braithwaite, NR — Replaced Dembele in the final minutes.