VAR controversially helps Barcelona beat Bilbao, however historic defensive document simple


Raphinha supplied a match-winner for the second week working as Barcelona beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0 at San Mames on Sunday, regardless of some late drama when Inaki Williams had an equaliser dominated out by VAR.

Williams thought he had earned some extent for the house facet within the 87th minute just for his effort to be disallowed following a pitch-side overview for a handball by Iker Muniain within the build-up.

Bilbao’s Yuri Berchiche and Gorka Guruzeta then had nice probabilities to equalise in stoppage time, however Barca held on because of Raphinha’s ninth purpose in all competitions this season.

Coach Xavi Hernandez’s facet, subsequently, keep their nine-point lead over Actual Madrid on the high of LaLiga going into subsequent weekend’s El Clasico at Camp Nou.

Speedy response

1. VAR resolution earns Barcelona three important factors

There was already a fiery ambiance at San Mames on Sunday after every week that noticed Spanish prosecutors search expenses towards Barcelona for making an attempt purchase favour from referees — one thing the membership vehemently denies. Within the thirtieth minute, Athletic followers chucked pretend financial institution notes on to the pitch with Barca’s badge and the phrase “mafia” written on them and adjusted, “To the second division.”

That was nothing in comparison with the whistles that greeted the full-time whistle after the sport’s large VAR resolution went towards Athletic.

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Williams out-ran Barcelona onto a ball excessive and fired previous Marc-Andre ter Stegen for what gave the impression to be a well-executed equaliser. Nothing appeared amiss at first, however referee Gil Manzano was quickly suggested to overview the play once more. Upon overview, he cancelled the purpose out for a handball by Munian on the different finish of the pitch within the sequence the place Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong misplaced the ball.

Even nonetheless, Athletic may nonetheless have gotten some extent. Berchiche and Guruzeta noticed pictures blocked on the road in a frenzied ending to the sport. Earlier, Alex Berenguer and Raul Garcia had each hit the woodwork for Athletic Bilbao and Ter Stegen made saves on Muniain and Williams.

Supervisor Ernesto Valverde’s facet should choose themselves up rapidly. Athletic Membership are nonetheless within the working for a European place regardless of a five-game winless run in all competitions and are within the semifinal of the Copa del Rey.

2. Barcelona’s clear sheets driving title cost forward of El Clasico

There was a component of fortune to Barca’s newest clear sheet on Sunday, however their numbers over the course of the season aren’t any fluke.

They’ve now had 19 shutouts in 25 league video games, greater than some other crew from Europe’s high 5 leagues this season. In whole, they’ve conceded simply eight objectives in LaLiga, a document low for this stage of the season in Spain’s high flight.

This may increasingly have been their closest shave but, although. The 15 pictures Athletic mustered was the second-most Barca have allowed this season (Atletico Madrid managed 20 in January) and required goalkeeper Ter Stegen to, as soon as once more, be at his greatest. Ter Stegen has already matched his league-best 19 clear sheets in a single season, with 13 extra matches left to play this season. Defenders Andreas Christensen, Jules Kounde and Alejandro Balde additionally made essential contributions at varied moments.

The clear sheets have meant Barca haven’t all the time needed to excel in assault, and one purpose is commonly sufficient. They’ve now gained 1-0 9 occasions in LaLiga this season, and it means they are going to have a nine-point cushion when Madrid go to subsequent week. A win within the Clasico would take them inside touching distance of a primary league title since 2019.

3. Raphinha delivering in Dembele’s absence

Raphinha has usually drawn criticism in his first season at Barcelona, however he’s now repeatedly successful them matches.

His purpose towards Athletic got here contemporary from his winner within the 1-0 victory towards Valencia final weekend. That’s now 5 objectives in his final 10 video games since Ousmane Dembele obtained injured.

With Dembele out, in addition to Pedri, it’s Raphinha developing with the important thing moments. Whereas Robert Lewandowski missed an early one-on-one and despatched a header huge in a while, the Brazilian took his one large likelihood.

He now has 9 objectives and 9 assists in all competitions for Barca. What’s extra, he has eight objectives in his final 20 video games after beginning the season with one purpose in 17 video games.

Finest and worst performers

Finest: Raphinha, Barcelona

The match-winner for the second week working and tireless in his defensive dedication as nicely.

Finest: Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Barcelona

The goalkeeper made a string of wonderful saves to earn his facet all three factors.

Finest: Alejandro Balde, Barcelona

Harmful in assault and alert in defence, particularly when the tempo Nico Williams came visiting to his facet.

Worst: Robert Lewandowski, Barcelona

He took a heavy contact when performed via by De Jong within the first half, losing the possibility, after which headed a Balde cross huge after the break.

Worst: Mikel Balenziaga, Athletic Membership

The 35-year-old struggled at occasions towards Raphinha and was taken off within the second half.

Worst: Iker Muniain, Athletic Membership

He had an impression off the bench however noticed one likelihood saved by Ter Stegen and it was his handball that dominated out his facet’s late purpose.

Highlights and notable moments

Athletic Bilbao weren’t with out their probabilities, however you have to love Gavi’s committment to his intervention within the twenty third minute.

Now that is utilizing your noggin!

Anyway, you in all probability simply wish to see Raphina’s purpose, proper? ESPN FC’s social media accounts had the highlights in actual time:

It did seem that Bilbao scored an equaliser, which might’ve put an finish to Barcelona’s spectacular defensive streak, however a prolonged VAR examine resulted within the purpose being overturned.

Replays confirmed Iker Muniain’s arm touched the ball on the play the place Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong misplaced possession within the midfield, springing Bilbao on a counterattack the opposite manner.

After the match: What the managers stated

Barcelona supervisor Xavi Hernandez on the consequence:It is true we have to play better, but this is a difficult place to come. It’s normal to suffer at San Mames. But it’s a vital win. We knew it would be a difficult away game.”

Hernandez on the group’s response throughout the recreation: I respect the fans at San Mames. They have always treated me well. I was surprised at the hostile atmosphere towards Barca. It was sad to see. I don’t think it’s good for society. Everyone is free to (air their opinion) and I respect all opionions, whether I agree with it or not, but it made me sad.”

Key stats (supplied by ESPN Stats & Data analysis)

  • Barcelona’s 9 wins by 1-0 this season lengthen the membership document for many in a single LaLiga season (most by any crew in a single season is 11 by 2017-18 Atlético, 2020-21 Sevilla and 1988-89 Valencia).

  • This was Raphinha’s second time scoring in consecutive matches with Barcelona in all competitions. He has eight objectives in his final 20 video games after beginning the season with one purpose in 17 video games.

  • Raphinha’s 9 objectives tie his second most in a single season in his profession (all competitions).

  • The 15 pictures by Athletic Membership are tied for the second most by any crew towards Barcelona in LaLiga (20 by Atlético Madrid on Feb. 8 are probably the most). Barcelona have stored a shutout in seven of the eight video games it has allowed probably the most pictures this season in LaLiga.

Up subsequent

Athletic Membership: Bilbao head to Valladolid for a LaLiga fixture on Friday, March 17 towards Actual Valladolid (stream dwell on ESPN+ at 4 p.m. ET).

Barcelona: Barça have a giant one subsequent: one other version of El Clasico towards rivals Actual Madrid on Sunday, March 19 (stream dwell on ESPN+ at 4 p.m. ET). Though Barcelona are a number of factors clear on high of the LaLiga desk, this derby towards second-place Actual Madrid may have main implications within the title race.

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