- Competition: La Liga
- Date: August 28, 2016
- Game week: 2
- Kick off: 07:15 p.m. BST or 02:15 p.m. EST
- Venue: San Mames (Bilbao)
Athletic Bilbao: Team News
Athletic Bilbao suffered a shock defeat in their first La Liga game against Sporting Gijon at El Molinon. The Basque club registered more shots on goal than their opposition and had more possession, but still couldn’t dominate in the stat which matters, that is of course, goals. Duje Cop and Victor Rodriguez netted for Sporting Gijon in the second half, which made Athletic Bilbao return empty handed, although Borja Viguera had a late consolation for Ernesto Valverde’s side.
The game was marred by racist chants from Gijon fans targeting Athletic striker Inaki Williams. So it will be interesting to see if the striker will start against last season’s league champions, Barcelona, to show if he has mental strength to stand up against the haters.
Athletic Bilbao: Predicted Line-up (4-2-3-1)
Iraizoz — de Marcos, Boveda, Laporte, Balenziaga — San Jose, Benat — Williams, Raul Garcia, Susaeta — Aduriz
Barcelona: Team News
The biggest change for Barcelona is that goalkeeper Claudio Bravo has departed the club after two wonderful years. The Chilean helped Barcelona win eight of the ten available trophies and now has joined former Barcelona manager in Manchester City.
Barcelona fans will likely remember Bravo very fondly, and the club has moved one step forward to give a tribute to their fan’s favorite by releasing a “thank you” video.
Now that Bravo is gone, the second choice goalkeeper in La Liga for Barcelona, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, will most probably become the first choice goalkeeper in both La Liga and Champions League.
Dutch international Jasper Cillessen has arrived at the club in a big money move, but he is likely to protect the goal in Copa Del Rey matches only.
Luis Enrique doesn’t have selection headache for the forward lineup, with Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Arda Turan all impressing in the game against Real Betis. Therefore, they will retain their place in the starting lineup against Bilbao.
On the other hand, the return of Xavier Mascherano causes trouble for the Barcelona coach whether to go with the ever-reliable Argentine or the impressive performer in the last game, Samuel Umtiti.
Andres Iniesta will miss the game due to injury, thus new signing Denis Suarez will play in midfield along with Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic.
Barcelona: Predicted Line-up (4-3-3)
ter Stegen — Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba — Busquets, Rakitic, Denis — Messi, Suarez, Arda
Athletic Bilbao vs. Barcelona: Head to Head (h2h)
In the last two decades, Barcelona have dominated the games against Athletic Bilbao, winning 32 of the 38 games against the Basque club. In the remaining six games, Barcelona have drawn four and lost two.
The most recent meeting between these two clubs came in Copa Del Rey competition in January this year. Barcelona claimed victory in both legs of the competition, winning first leg 2-1 and second leg 3-1, and progressed to the later stage.
Neymar scored in both legs against Bilbao for Barca, however he will not play against Athletic club today. In his place, Arda Turan will play, who has been in scintillating form in last couple of weeks.
Athletic Bilbao vs. Barcelona: Prediction
Barcelona will be wise to avoid any complacency against Athletic because they are a different beast playing at home. Messi and Co. have struggled against Bilbao in recent years, as the high pressing style of Ernesto Varderde successfully disrupts Barcelona’s possession game. So the key for Barcelona will be to be firm and brave in midfield, anticipating high pressing from the Athletic club and supplying the front three of Messi, Suarez and Turan as soon as possible.
Final Predicted Score: Athletic Bilbao 1-3 Barcelona
Athletic Bilbao vs. Barcelona: Betting Tips
(Odds via Paddypower)
- Athletic win: 9/2
- A draw: 16/5
- Barcelona win: 4/7
- Both teams to score: 4/6
- Both teams not to score: 11/10
- Luis Suarez to score and Barcelona to win to nil 7/2
- Messi to score and Barcelona to win to nil 7/2
- Aduriz to score for Athletic and Over 2.5 goals in match 11/4
It would not be a Barcelona game without Suarez and Messi goals, so it would not be wise to bet in scoreless draw. Arda Turan has been in great goal-scoring form lately, and one could fancy him to find the target again. The Turk is priced 4/7 to score in 90 minutes, according to Skybet.
Athletic Bilbao vs. Barcelona: Live Streaming
One can watch the game Athletic vs. Barcelona streaming live online. You can enjoy the game live streaming online by clicking in the link here.
[Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images]