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Barcelona lose de Jong and weeping Pedri – and miss out on second place

On Sunday evening in Bilbao, FC Barcelona missed the chance to overtake Girona in the table and close the gap on arch-rivals Real Madrid. In addition, the injury worries are growing again

The defense of the La Liga title is getting further and further away for FC Barcelona. The Catalans were unable to take advantage of slip-ups by Real (only 2:2 in Valencia) and Girona (0:1 in Mallorca) on Sunday evening. The reigning Spanish champions were held to a 0-0 draw in Bilbao.

The story of the first half is easy to tell – and it’s one that Xavi would have gladly given away. Barcelona played a decent away game, were quite stable at the back and had more possession. But the Catalans did not develop enough penetration and, to make matters worse, lost two key players: first de Jong twisted his ankle badly and had to be substituted with a contorted face (26′), then Pedri left the pitch in tears – probably because of another muscular injury (45′).

Fermin and Joao Cancelo had the only and best (double) chance of the first half. First the joker (who came on for de Jong) failed to beat keeper Unai Simon, who had rushed out of his goal, before Joao Cancelo tried to take advantage of the Spanish international goalkeeper’s risk with a shot from long range – but first Unai Simon got his hands to the ball before Yeray finally knocked the ball away before it crossed the line (31′).

Memories of Getafe – Tough tasks ahead

After the break, the game took a quarter of an hour before Bilbao, who were actually tired from the Copa, increasingly seized the initiative. But Athletic did not get beyond good attempts. Xavi made a number of changes, including bringing on Joao Felix. But they also waited in vain for a “moment of genius” from the Portuguese.

In the end, it was only Barcelona’s second 0-0 draw of the season – after the nil-nil against Getafe at the start of the season. However, Xavi will be more concerned about the two injured players. Especially in view of the upcoming tasks: The home game against Mallorca on Friday is followed by the second leg of the round of 16 in the Premier League against Napoli, before the Catalans have to face Atletico Madrid on March 17.

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