Another win, another less then convincing display but Barcelona remain top of La Liga and yet to taste defeat this season.
Again it was Lionel Messi who made the difference, but just as important were Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Samuel Umtiti.
Here’s a few thoughts after the game at San Mames
Barcelona and the woodwork
Much has been made of the fact that Barcelona have already scored five own goals this season, suggesting the Blaugrana have had more than their fair share of luck.
However, there’s another telling stat, which suggests that actually Barcelona and Messi in particular are a little unfortunate not to have scored even more this season.
The little genuis hit the woodwork again on Saturday, the 10th time already this season he has been denied by the goalframe, while Barca have hit the woodwork 13 times in their last 16 games.
Just how good is Ter Stegen?
As well as Messi, Barcelona have Marc-Andre ter Stegen to thank for victory after yet another superb performance from the goalkeeper.
Ter Stegen has been brilliant all season and seems to go from strength-to-strength and you have to wonder just where does he rank at the moment?
The recent FIFA best awards were derided for not including Manchester United’s David De Gea on the list.
Meanwhile, Ter Stegen finished seventh behind,Buffon, Neuer, Navas, Courtois, Lloris and Oblak – a fair reflection?
Defensive indiscipline could cost Barca
Like Ter Stegen, Samuel Umtiti has been a rock for Barcelona this season but he was a little fortunate to stay on the pitch at San Mames.
Booked in the second half, he then proceeded to sarcastically applaud the referee and while you can maybe understand his frustration, we’ve seen players sent off in the past for the same reaction.
The booking is Umtiti’s fourth on the season, taking him one game away from suspension, with Gerard Pique also on four – one more for either and they will be handed a one-game ban.
Valverde line-up frustrates, but he keeps winning
Once again Valverde’s starting XI caused raised eyebrows. We had Sergi Roberto at right-back once again with Andre Gomes again featuring.
Yet again there was no game time for Denis Suarez or even Gerard Deulofeu, with Valverde only using one sub, bringing on Nelson Semedo for Gomes.
It’s difficult to understand Valverde’s thinking right now, but it’s also difficult to argue with 28 points out of 30 in La Liga so far.