Barcelona welcome Athletic Bilbao to the camp nou for the resumption of Spanish league action after the mid week Copa del Rey games.
Ronald Koeman’s men sit in 3rd place in the standings and despite a somewhat disappointing campaign are just three points off Rivals Real Madrid and 7 off Atletico who are looking good for the title. Lionel Messi has finally found his scoring boots with 5 in his last 5 but Barcelona need a sustained run of victories if they’re to stand any chance of pushing Atletico Madrid all the way. With one defeat in their last 14 games, you can say that the blaugrana have picked form at the right time but they need to keep that going and hope that the teams ahead of them struggle at some point.
Koeman has somewhat settled on a steady team with Frenkie De Jong, Pedri and Busquets forming a dependable midfield Trio, which allows Lionel Messi, Griezmann and Dembele fill the attacking positions. Barcelona have not been active in the transfer window this January as many blaugrana fans had hoped they would be with their main winter target being Manchester City defender Eric García, the club has decided to sign the player on a free in the summer after the conclusion of presidential elections. A win against Bilbao will go a long way in their pursuit of champions league football and ultimately the league title.
Bilbao are coming off an amazing January which saw them triumph in the super cup by beating both Real Madrid and Barcelona and then following that up by smashing Getafe 5-1 at home in the league. The upturn in results has seen Marcelino’s men move up the table to 9th. A few more good results and they could be actively competing in the European places.
A trip to the Camp Nou is always a daunting task for any team and this will be no different but with Bilbao definitely in form in the past few weeks this could be an opportunity to assert themselves as a top six team in Spain. Inaki Williams and García are back firing as a pair and with goals back in full supply this could be a high scoring game. Bilbao will want to win to continue their good form and potentially move into Europa league places.
Barcelona – Ronald Koeman has an otherwise healthy squad to choose from, discounting long term absentee Gerard Pique. Messi is expected to start alongside Antoine Griezmann in attack and there could be a start for Samuel Umtiti at the back. Sergino Dest is injured, while Gerard Pique, Ansu Fati, Philippe Coutinho and Moussa Wague remain long-term absentees.
Possible Barça XI – Ter Stegen, Dest, Araujo, Lenglet, Alba, De Jong, Busquets, Pedri, Dembele, Messi, Griezmann.
Athletic Bilbao – Marcelino will once again be without Yuri Berchiche and Inigo Martinez for this one, Again, Athletic will be without Peru Nolaskoain’s services, but Inigo Martinez can shake off a minor knock to feature at the center of the defense.
Possible Bilbao XI: Simon; Capa, Alvarez, Nunez, Berchiche; De Marcos, Vencedor, D Garcia, Muniain; R Garcia, Williams.
- Barcelona have beaten Bilbao nine times in a row while Bilbao have only won on three occasions from thirty seven.
- Los Leones are yet to win back to back games in La Liga since late 2019.
- Each of the last two games between both clubs ended, with a 3-2 scoreline in favor of both clubs with the most recent one going to a penalty shootout.
- Excluding the super cup final, the last six games between the two teams in all competitions have seen both Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao pick up two wins each, with the remaining two ending in draws.
- Prior to the Super Cup final, the Catalan based outfit were on a nine-game unbeaten streak.
Barcelona have been formidable at home this season and while this will be a difficult and heated affair with tempers still boiling from their recent super cup final meeting, The Blaugrana will be expected to take all three points.