Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde unfazed by Real Madrid title challenge

File photo of Ernesto Valverde. Photograph:( AFP )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 11, 2019, 11.17 AM (IST)

Barcelona's German goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen produced two fine saves to deny Athletic Bilbao victory as La Liga leaders Barcelona were held to a goalless draw at the Estadio San Mames on Sunday. 

Ter Stegen turned away Markel Susaeta's arcing shot before the break and then produced a superb reflex stop to repel Inaki Williams' effort from point-blank range. 

With the draw, Ernesto Valverde's squad thus dropped two points in the La Liga standings relative to Real Madrid, which is now behind Barca by only six points, but widened its lead to seven over Atletico Madrid, which slipped into third place. 

Barca might even have left empty-handed with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez misfiring as Gaizka Garitano's men started and finished strongly. 

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While Barcelona boss Valverde looked unfazed by the result during the post-match press conference. 

He said, "We end this week exactly like we ended the previous one. We were on top last week and we are on top this week."

"And, if my calculations are correct, we will be on top after next week as well," he added. 

On being asked about lack of communication between players, Valverde said, "Every time we talk about the attack, we always talk about the ability of the players to talk to each other in the right moment."

"Sometimes a player gets free and get the ball into his feet and other times, when he is expecting the ball to land into his feet, it goes into the space," Valverde added. 

Although Athletic saw De Marcos dismissed for a second bookable offence in stoppage time, there was no late drama.