Barcelona held by Athletic Bilbao in Copa clash

Barcelona have been held to a goalless draw at home by Athletic Bilbao in the first leg of their Copa del Rey last-16 tie.

The match at the Nou Camp pitted the two most successful sides in Copa del Rey history against each other - Barca having 25 crowns to Athletic's 23 - and was a repeat of the 2009 final which the Catalan side won 4-1.

Barca went into the encounter averaging more than four goals a game in winning their last 10 successive fixtures, but they could not find even one breakthrough on this occasion despite playing most of their star names, with Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Pedro Rodriguez starting and David Villa and Lionel Messi appearing as second-half substitutes.

Pep Guardiola's men dominated but Bojan Krkic and Iniesta were both denied by Athletic goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz in the first half before Xavi volleyed a decent opening after the break and Villa had an effort ruled out.

Gerard Pique then had a great chance right at the end to earn his side a narrow advantage to take to San Mames when Messi picked out his run into the box, but the Spain international volleyed wide with his less-favoured left foot and Athletic were able to congratulate themselves on a job well done.

 
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