Barcelona held to draw by Athletic Bilbao regardless of Lionel Messi start

La Liga leaders Barcelona handed Real Madrid even more hope in the title race as they attracted 0-0 at Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, just staying clear of loss thanks to some superior conserves by Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

The Germany keeper two times combated forward Inaki Williams as well as stayed out a painful drive from Markel Susaeta in an intense as well as enjoyable game in which the champs came under heavy stress throughout.

Barca leading the standings with 51 points after 23 video games, six ahead of a resurgent Real Madrid.

With Lionel Messi hampered by a recent upper leg trouble and influential left back Jordi Alba suspended, Barca were much from their common best, developing few clear chances and ending the video game safeguarding deep as Bilbao remained to assault.

The impressive hosts were left annoyed by the sending off of Oscar de Marcos in added time for a second yellow card, however there was barely any time left for Barca to capitalize and also they had to go for a 2nd straight league standstill after recently's 2-2 draw in your home to Valencia.

The house side, injuring after a limp defeat by local opponents Real Sociedad in their last getaway as well as with a heaving San Mames stadium willing them on, made an intense beginning and also took the video game to the champions.

Ter Stegen was first called into action by a long-range strike from Susaeta, the German flying towards the leading right corner to tip the ball over the bar with his left hand.

He then stood type to stay out an overhanging kick from Raul Garcia and looked out in the second half, intuitively throwing an arm right into the air to pat away a close-range shot from Williams as well as later on extending to capture a shot from the forward.

Messi, that began recently for 1-1 draw in home to Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg, was Barca's insecurity outlet in spite of his obvious physical fitness concerns.

He came closest to racking up for the site visitors, sending a loose sphere on the top of the bar after Bilbao caretaker Iago Herrerin screwed up on the edge of the location.

Barca appreciated even more control in the second fifty percent after homemade midfielder Carles Alena got substituted to irregular starter Arturo Vidal.

Bilbao looked far likelier to damage the predicament in the closing phases, but were repetitively locked out by the daunting presence of the outstanding Ter Stegen.