That was easy for Barcelona. Genuinely. They barely had to break a sweat to earn three points from that game. Athletic Bilbao didn't enter the contest until it was too late. Valverde's side continue their march towards the Liga title without so much as a stumble.
- 2nd Half
- 1/2 Time
- 1st Half
FC Barcelona - Athletic Club
Liga - 18 March 2018
Liga – Follow the Football match between FC Barcelona and Athletic Club live with Eurosport. The match starts at 16:15 on 18 March 2018. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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- End of 2nd Half
FULL TIME: Barcelona 2-0 Athletic Bilbao
This result will make it 36 games unbeaten for Barcelona in La Liga. They are strolling to the 2017/18 title. There's nobody who can stop them now. They can tie the ribbons on the trophy.
Just two minutes of stoppage time to be played at the end of the match.
Barcelona haven't been at full tilt this afternoon, but it says a lot about their superiority that they haven't had to be. Athletic Bilbao have left it too late to get anything from this.
MESSI ACROSS GOAL! He beats one, two, three and then takes aim at the Athletic Bilbao goal from a tight angle. However, his strike flashes across goal and wide of the far post.
It used to be the case that Barcelona were viewed as weak at the back. Now, that is no longer the case. The Catalans are on course for their 29th clean sheet of the season.
- OffPhilippe CoutinhoFC Barcelona
- OnAndré GomesFC Barcelona
Barcelona make their final change of the match and Gomes comes on for Coutinho.
Athletic Bilbao could have made a game of this much earlier. The introduction of Aduriz and Williams has made a big difference for the visitors. Those changes should have been made at the break.
Good defending by Martinez. Messi had acres to run in to and tried to dribble past Athletic Bilbao's January signing, but he stood his ground and made the clean challenge.
There is an air of frustration around this Barcelona team at the moment. They have been the better team by a long distance, but they could have done better in this second half.
It's all gone a little bit stagnant for Barcelona in this second half. The game was effectively won in the opening 45 minutes, but they could have racked up the goals here.
Athletic Bilbao have certainly come back into this game in the last 15 minutes or so. Now that they have Aduriz and Williams on the pitch, the visitors are playing much better.
Aduriz was in behind there, sending a shot wide of the near post as Ter Stegen came off his line to narrow the angle. The flag was up, but replays showed that he might have been onside.
Vidal has found a role for himself at Barcelona despite being heavily linked with a move away from the Camp Nou in the January window. It was thought that he'd go back to Sevilla.
Tactically, that's a very interesting change from Barcelona. Does that mean that Messi will be playing up front as a lone striker? Will Coutinho and Dembele be allowed to push forward?
- OffPaco AlcácerFC Barcelona
- OnAleix VidalFC Barcelona
Unusual change for Barcelona. Vidal comes on for Alcacer with 15 minutes to go.
The thing is that if Athletic Bilbao can find a goal soon, it will be game on at the Camp Nou. For all that Barcelona have been utterly dominant, they only have a 2-0 lead.
So Athletic Bilbao now have their best two players on the pitch. Aduriz and Williams have just over 15 minutes to make an impression and get their team back in this contest.
- OffSabin MerinoAthletic Club
- OnAritz AdurizAthletic Club
Another Athletic Bilbao change and on comes the veteran striker Aduriz.
Umtiti is forced to head behind from a Williams cross. The French defender has been the subject of much transfer speculation of late, but he is so important to this Barca team.
Alcacer has been quiet since scoring the opening goal of the game. But then, the striker doesn't really involve himself much in the general build up play. He's a different kind of Barca forward.
This has been far too easy for Barcelona. Even in this second half, when they have eased up, Athletic Bilbao haven't been able to cause them problems of any great note.
Iniesta was an injury concern ahead of the Champions League game against Chelsea, but the knock doesn't appear to be a serious one and he is playing with freedom again.
- OffOusmane DembéléFC Barcelona
- OnAndrés IniestaFC Barcelona
Here's the change Barca have been preparing for a while. It's Dembele who comes off for Iniesta.
That change should give Athletic Bilbao much more pace in the final third of the pitch. They might now have an option down the channels when they work the ball closer to goal.
- OffMarkel SusaetaAthletic Club
- OnIñaki WilliamsAthletic Club
It's Athletic Bilbao who make their change first, though. On comes Williams.
Indeed, Iniesta has been called to the Barcelona bench by Valverde. The playmaker will be coming on as soon as the ball is next knocked out of play. But who will he come on for?
It's just a matter of time until Barcelona clinch the league title in Spain now. They are so far ahead of the rest of the competition. Valverde has still to lose a Liga game in charge.
Barcelona look to have dropped the tempo of their play in this second half. Of course, they haven't needed to be at their best against this Athletic side, but not the same intensity.
WELL OVER! Athletic Bilbao are having more of the ball in this second half, but Saborit couldn't find the target with his strike from distance. That won't trouble Ter Stegen. Not even close.
COUTINHO SHOT! The Brazilian is played in by a teammate, taking the shot early. But he strikes his effort straight at Kepa, who had the straightforward task of making the low save.
Looks like Iniesta has been sent to warm up by Valverde. The playmaker was rested for the start of this match, but might we see him come on soon? He's still one of the very best.
Messi, once again, isn't happy. This time he's hacked down by San Jose. Athletic Bilbao have done this all afternoon an Messi believes that a few more yellows should have been flashed.
Athletic Bilbao have really missed both Aduriz and Williams this afternoon. Without those two players the visitors have lacked any sort of edge or presence in the final third.
Pique and Umtiti have been solid at the back. They have had very little to deal with over the course of the match so far. Athletic Bilbao just haven't been able to get the ball into the final third.
Valverde will be pleased with how Dembele has played this afternoon. The Frenchman has taken a while to find his feet at Barcelona, but is increasingly becoming a key figure.
Messi might well be in the form of his life at the moment. The Argentine has scored in each of his last six games and is tearing open opponents at will. What a joy it is to watch him.
Will Athletic Bilbao be able to up their game for the second half? They were very poor in the opening 45 minutes. Barcelona had no trouble in picking them off at relative ease.
- 2nd Half
The second half is under way! Barcelona have a 2-0 lead over Athletic Bilbao.
What did you make of the first half at the Camp Nou? Is this Barcelona at their best? Can anyone stop Messi at present? Is there any way back for Athletic Bilbao from this? Tweet me!
- End of 1st Half
HALF TIME: Barcelona 2-0 Athletic Bilbao. The Liga pace-setters have a two goal lead at the break, but that doesn't quite do justice to their level of sheer dominance so far.
OUTSIDE OF THE POST! Dembele drives forward and plays the ball to Paulinho, who curls a right-footed effort towards goal. But the Brazilian strikes the outside of the post and wide.
Messi isn't happy with the referee. He feels that he isn't being afforded enough protection from some of these rough Athletic Bilbao tackles. He might have a point.
There have been a number of reckless challenges from Athletic Bilbao in this first half. They don't have an answer to the question Barcelona are posing of them. Very poor, so far.
- Yellow cardIñigo LekueAthletic Club
That's so cynical from Lekue. He tried to hack down Messi for 20 yards and finally succeeded.
- Yellow cardOusmane DembéléFC Barcelona
Dembele commits a foul and enters the book. Was that for dissent rather than the foul itself?
Coutinho looks in the mood this afternoon. The former Liverpool man is positioned on the left side of the midfield, with Dembele playing on the opposite flank. They might switch.
Barcelona have a 2-0 lead at the moment, but they could have scored triple that. The Catalans have been excellent in this first half, while Athletic Bilbao don't even look interested.
CIRCUS FOOTBALL! That would have been a ridiculous goal. Alba passes into Paulinho, who chips it over the top. Coutinho lifts it over Kepa, but hits the top of the crossbar.
Terrible marking from Athletic Bilbao for that goal. The finish from Messi was exceptional, Kepa had no chance, but you can't allow him so much space in that position.
- GoalLionel MessiFC Barcelona
GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL! Barcelona 2 (30 mins - Lionel Messi) Athletic Bilbao 0. Messi has added a second for Barcelona! Dembele found the Argentine on the edge of the box and he made no mistake in sweeping home a finish into the bottom corner. What a strike!
For the first time in the match, Athletic Bilbao enjoy a spell of prolonged possession. However, they're not doing anything with it and Barcelona are happy for them to have it.
Alcacer will naturally be delighted that he has managed to find the scoresheet. The former Valencia striker has found a role for himself at Barca, but he must take every chance.
Of course, this match sees Valverde come up against his former club. He has done an excellent job since arriving at Barcelona in the summer, and Athletic have missed him. A lot.
I just get the feeling that Barcelona have taken their foot off the pedal in the past 10 minutes or so. They started the game at a high pace, but they haven't needed to continue that. Athletic have been poor.
HOW DIDN'T THAT GO IN? Barcelona passed their way through the Athletic defence, with Dembele playing it back to Coutinho. His shot was saved and Messi is crowded out.
There's no Busquets for Barcelona this afternoon, with Rakitic playing as the anchoring midfielder for the hosts. It's a role that the Croatian has performed for the Catalans before.
For so long many talked about how Dembele was signed to replace Neymar, but now people are realising that he's a completely different player. He's more like someone like Pedro.
This is also a chance for Dembele to build on his performance against Chelsea during the week. The young Frenchman finally looks to be finding his feet at Barcelona.
Alba has been one of Barcelona's best players this season. He came in for criticism last season, even losing his place to Digne at times, but the Spaniard has been back to his best recently.
- Yellow cardSamuel UmtitiFC Barcelona
That's a strange one. Umtiti is booked after being taken out in the box by Nunez.
This has been stunning from Barcelona in the opening 15 minutes or so of this match. Athletic Bilbao are spinning. They have hardly touched the ball. Barca are toying with them.
OFF THE BAR! That was inches away from being a second Barcelona goal, with Coutinho smashing a half-volley towards the target. It comes back off the underside of the bar!
On the flip side, Barcelona are in exceptional form at the moment. They were brilliant against Chelsea in the Champions League on Wednesday. They could win the Treble this season.
Athletic Bilbao were really poor against Marseille during the week, crashing out of the Europa League with a whimper, and it looks like they haven't improved much since then.
MESSI STRIKE! He's in the mood today. Athletic Bilbao allowed so much space about 20 yards out, with Messi striking on goal, but Kepa got down well to make the diving save.
Well, that was worrying for Athletic Bilbao. They were completely opened up by a relatively simple pass and Alcacer had the easy task of finishing. A sign of more to come?
- GoalPaco AlcácerFC Barcelona
GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL! Barcelona 1 (8 mins - Paco Alcacer) Athletic Bilbao 0. The Catalans have the opening goal of the game! Alba plays a low pass into the box, with Alcacer losing his marker around 12 yards out and the striker side-foots a shot into the far corner of the net.
Kepa will have a lot to do this afternoon, you'd imagine. He's highly rated and came close to signing for Real Madrid in the January transfer window. He stayed at Athletic, though.
A reminder of the teams at the Camp Nou this afternoon...
MESSI FREEKICK! The Barcelona number 10 curls an effort towards the top corner of the Athletic Bilbao goal, but Kepa watched it all the way and took no chances in parrying over.
San Jose trips Messi on the edge of the box. Should that have been a yellow card? There was a strong case for one. The referee maybe let him off because it's so early in the game.
Both these teams come into this game on the back of performances in Europe during the week. Chelsea were exceptional against Chelsea, while Athletic crashed out of the Europa League to Marseille.
Valverde has made a number of changes to his team for this one. Most notably, Suarez is suspended this afternoon and so he has been replaced up front by Alcacer. Big chance for him.
- 1st Half
The match is under way at the Camp Nou! It's Barcelona against Athletic Bilbao.
TEAM NEWS: Barcelona - Ter Stegen, Alba, Pique, Umtiti, Roberto, Rakitic, Paulinho, Coutinho, Dembele, Messi, Alcacer. /// Athletic Bilbao - Kepa, Saborit, Martinez, Nunez, Lekue, De Marcos, Benat, San Jose, Garcia, Susaeta, Sabin.
I'm Graham Ruthven and you can catch me on Twitter ahead of the game to let me know your thoughts. Are Barcelona at the top of their game right now? What chance do Athletic stand? Tweet me!
Good afternoon and welcome to Eurosport's LIVE coverage of the Spanish Liga clash between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao. We'll bring you all the action as it happens. Kick off is at 3.15pm.