Valverde and Suarez calm over Messi's form: 'He is at 100%'
- Sunday marked the first game Messi has started since September without assisting or scoring.
- Despite that, both Valverde and Suarez insist that Leo as at 100%.
- Suarez blames Messi's quiet night at opposition fouling him too much.
Leo Messi had a quiet evening at Bilbao by his own standards, not scoring or assisting a goal in the game he started for the first time since September.
Journalists have suggested that the reason behind that might be the lack of time the Argentine had been given to recover from the knock he suffered against Valencia. However, both Ernesto Valverde and Luis Suarez have assured the media that Messi is, in fact, perfectly fine.
"He's at one hundred percent, he played that way," explained Valverde in his post-match press conference. "Leo is fine. We've had problems with him, but if he's played then it's because he was totally ready to."
Luis Suarez has back his manager in this assessment of Leo's fitness:
"If he played, then it's because he's at one hundred percent," Suarez stated. "However, it was difficult for him to play because he was being constantly fouled."
Barcelona drew Athletic Bilbao 0-0 at San Mames in the 23rd round of La Liga. The Catalans failed to create any danger in front of Iago Herrerin's goal except for Lionel Messi's shot that was denied by the bar in the first half. On the other end, Marc-Andre ter Stegen had to save his team twice after Basque players' shots to give his side a chance to win the match. The team looked tired and sluggish with Messi not being 100% ready, Dembele returning from an injury and Suarez, Vidal and Coutinho simply not having their best day.
Thus, Barcelona go six points clear at the top of the table with Real Madrid in the second place. Los Blancos have beaten their neighbours Atletico on the 23rd Matchday 3-1 getting ahead of Diego Simeone's side. Barcelona's next match takes place on February 16 as the Catalans face Real Valladolid at Camp Nou in the 24th round of the league. At the same time, Real Madrid will take on Girona at home.