Barcelona regains control of first place in La Liga as Messi sets up winner vs. Athletic Bilbao

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    Barcelona moved back into first place in La Liga on Tuesday with a nervy 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao. Barca had been leading the title race before being jumped by Real Madrid last weekend on goal differential tiebreaker after dropping points to Sevilla. 

    Lionel Messi assisted Ivan Rakitic in the 71st minute for the game’s lone goal, giving Barca a three-point lead at the summit of the league before Real plays Espanyol on Wednesday. Luis Suarez got the start for the victors but it wasn’t the forward’s best game as the hosts struggled to consistently create good looks on frame.

    Barca was the better team in this one but had just two shots on goal. The team has just five shots on goal int he last 180 minutes. Athletic struggled to do much of anything in this game and had just 27 possession, while failing to record a single shot on goal. 

    The only goal came after a nifty touch from Messi left Rakitic in on goal on the right side of the box, and the Croatian international did not miss in the 71st minute as concerns of a draw grew. 

    Barcelona dropped points in a 1-1 draw at Sevilla on Friday, allowing Real to move into first place on Sunday with its 2-1 win over Real Sociedad. The teams entered the day level on points, but Real holds the head-to-head tiebreaker.

    This result means Barca will remain in first place as long as Real Madrid fails to win on Wednesday.

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