Tactical Insights

Athletic Bilbao 0-0 Barcelona: Stalemate denies visitors chance to climb to second in La Liga

Barcelona defender Ronal Araujo puts his arms up in the air
Barcelona are yet to lose away from home in La Liga this season, winning seven and drawing six

Barcelona failed to capitalise on results elsewhere in La Liga after a goalless draw at Athletic Bilbao which means they stay third in the table.

The Basque side dug in from the outset with a well-organised defensive unit, looking to play on the counter.

Joao Cancelo went closest to scoring for Barca but his 40-yard effort was cleared off the line by Yeray Alvarez.

With second-placed Girona losing at Mallorca, a win for Barcelona would have seen them move up to second.

Athletic’s gameplan worked to a point, denying Barcelona clear openings, but they were unable to pose any serious threat when they did get the opportunity to break.

Portugal full-back Cancelo was inches away from putting the visitors in front midway through the first half when he met Unai Simon’s clearance first time from just inside the hosts’ half.

The goalkeeper managed to backtrack to get a hand on the effort and Alvarez then desperately hooked the ball off the line.

The pattern of play remained the same in the second half with both teams building neatly up the field but struggling to execute the right pass in the final third.

With the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie to come against Napoli on 12 March, Barcelona boss Xavi will not have been pleased to have seen Frenkie de Jong and Pedri both leave the field with injuries, the latter reduced to tears when he took his place on the bench.

Real Madrid’s 2-2 draw at Valencia on Saturday offered Barcelona hope of cutting the gap at the top to just six points.

The draw does no favours for either side with Barcelona staying third and eight adrift of Real. Fifth-placed Athletic Bilbao have dropped further off the pace of the top four as they sit five points behind Atletico Madrid, who beat Real Betis 2-1 earlier in the day.


Ath Bilbao

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Simón
  • 24PradosSubstituted forDe Marcosat 80′minutes
  • 5Álvarez
  • 4Paredes
  • 19García de AlbénizBooked at 65mins
  • 14García CarrilloBooked at 52mins
  • 6VesgaSubstituted forRuíz de Galarretaat 63′minutes
  • 9WilliamsSubstituted forAres Djalóat 76′minutes
  • 30GómezSubstituted forSancetat 63′minutes
  • 7BerenguerBooked at 86mins
  • 12GuruzetaSubstituted forVillalibreat 76′minutes


  • 8Sancet
  • 10Muniain
  • 13Agirrezabala
  • 15Lekue
  • 16Ruíz de Galarreta
  • 18De Marcos
  • 20Villalibre
  • 22García
  • 23Ares Djaló
  • 27Egiluz
  • 31Jauregizar
  • 32Rincón


Formation 4-3-3

  • 1ter Stegen
  • 23KoundéBooked at 88mins
  • 33CubarsíSubstituted forMartínezat 76′minutes
  • 4AraújoBooked at 32mins
  • 2Cancelo
  • 22Gündogan
  • 15ChristensenBooked at 62minsSubstituted forRomeuat 76′minutes
  • 21F de JongSubstituted forLópezat 26′minutes
  • 11RaphinhaSubstituted forJoão Félixat 76′minutes
  • 9Lewandowski
  • 8PedriSubstituted forYamalat 45′minutes


  • 5Martínez
  • 13Peña Sotorres
  • 14João Félix
  • 16López
  • 18Romeu
  • 19Roque Ferreira
  • 20Roberto
  • 27Yamal
  • 31Kochen
  • 38Guiu
  • 39Fort

Alejandro José Hernández Hernández


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