Barcelona’s poor form continued as they were held to a 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.
- Barcelona 1 Athletic Bilbao 1
- De Marcos on target on 41′
- Munir levels on 84′
- Suarez goal disallowed on 87′
With one eye on the Champions League clash with Tottenham Hotspur next week, Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde started with his captain on the bench.
And it was the away side to draw first blood with Oscar De Marcos on target at the end of the first half. Messi though was introduced in the second half and set up fellow substitute Munir for an equaliser with 84 minutes on the clock.
Barcelona were quickly out of the blocks but a quick one-two between Phillipe Coutinho and Luis Suarez was just overhit before a free-kick from the Uruguayan from 30 yards flew wide of the Athletic goal moments later.
The away side were soon on the ball and after some positive movement, Inaki Williams latched onto a dinked pass in behind the Barcelona defence, but could only hit his half-volley past a post.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen tipped a Raul Garcia shot from about 25 yards over his crossbar while Williams so nearly had the opener after picking up the ball and getting around the Barca stopper, only to be forced too wide.
Simon then kept his side in the game as Suarez hit a low, left-footed shot on the turn that the keeper just about got a foot to, to keep the ball out.
The keeper again denied Suarez, who directed the ball in at the near post, having been fed by Ousmane Dembele.
The save proved to be crucial with De Marcos giving his side the lead just minutes later. It was a simple tap in for the defender who was completely unmarked at the back post as he connected to Susaeta’s delivery.
It was a relatively slow start to the second half with the first real chance arriving on 62 minutes that saw Coutinho volley the ball into the ground and back off the bar, with Suarez unable to loop home the rebound.
Messi then, on for Arturo Vidal on 55 minutes, hit the Bilbao post, with 77 minutes played, after picking the ball up on the run from the left.
After a scrappy period of play, Messi found some space, and after having an initial effort blocked, the ball came straight back to him and he shifted onto his right and fired in for Munir to tap home.
Suarez was offside when he tapped home minutes later and as a result, the Spanish leaders had to settle for second draw in three games, that includes last week’s loss to lowly Leganes.