Barcelona got their La Liga title defence off to a good start with a hard fought 1-0 away win over Athletic Bilbao.
Barcelona have started their La Liga title defence with a 1-0 away win over Athletic Bilbao, who just nine days ago beat them 4-0 in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup.
The goal came early in the second half through Luis Suarez, who played on the opening day for the first time in a couple of seasons, hit a first time effort from a cross out on the left-wing by Jordi Alba.
Lionel Messi had the chance to score from the penalty spot in the first half after Suarez was judged to have been brought down in the box by Gorka Elustondo, although replays show that the defender did get his foot to the ball first.
Justice was done however as Gorka Iraizoz guessed the correct way and saved Messi’s effort. That’s his 14th career penalty miss. It might be time for Barcelona to find a new penalty taker.
Barcelona really struggled in this match, Athletic Bilbao made it hard for them to create chances and Messi didn’t look at his best. They are also missing the impact of Neymar in their front three who is currently out for a couple of weeks with the mumps.
Athletic Bilbao had chances of their own and a couple of shouts for a penalty. The Barcelona defence looked vulnerable when Bilbao were able to get at them.
What will be worrying for Barcelona fans is that both Dani Alves and Sergio Busquets went off injured and they are unable to register any new players until January as part of their transfer embargo.
Barcelona have a lot of work to do to get back to being the side that was so impressive when they won the Champions League last season.