Barcelona are back in action with yet another important clash in La Liga this week as they take on Basque giants Athletic Bilbao at San Mames on Wednesday. The Catalan giants have blown hot and cold this season and have a point to prove going into this game.
Athletic Bilbao are currently in ninth place in the La Liga standings and have managed 21 points in their 17 games so far. The Basque outfit secured a 1-0 victory against Elche over the weekend and will want to pull off an upset in this game.
Barcelona recovered from their 1-1 draw against Eibar with an uninspiring 1-0 victory against relegation-battlers SD Huesca in their previous game. The Blaugrana are in fifth place in the La Liga standings and are in desperate need of a string of victories at the moment.
Athletic Bilbao vs Barcelona Head-to-Head
Barcelona have an excellent record against Athletic Bilbao and have won 36 games out of a total of 56 matches played between the two sides. Athletic Bilbao have managed only 12 victories against Barcelona and need to take it up a notch in this game.
The previous meeting between these two teams last year ended in a hard-fought 1-0 victory for Barcelona. Riqui Puig made a massive impact off the bench on the day but his sour relationship with Ronald Koeman is likely to keep him on the bench yet again this week.
Athletic Bilbao form guide in La Liga: W-L-D-W-L
Barcelona form guide in La Liga: W-D-W-D-W
Athletic Bilbao vs Barcelona Team News
Peru Nolaskoain and Yeray Alvarez are currently injured and will not be able to play a part this week. Unai Lopez is also carrying a knock and has been ruled out of the game against Barcelona.
Injured: Peru Nolaskoain, Yeray Alvarez, Unai Lopez
Philippe Coutinho, Gerard Pique, Sergi Roberto, and Ansu Fati are recuperating from long-term injuries at the moment and will not be included in the squad. Ousmane Dembele made his full return against Huesca over the weekend and is set to start this game.
Injured: Philippe Coutinho, Gerard Pique, Sergi Roberto, Ansu Fati
Athletic Bilbao vs Barcelona Predicted XI
Athletic Bilbao Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Unai Simon; Yuri Berchiche, Inigo Martinez, Unai Nunez, Ander Capa; Dani Garcia, Mikel Vesga; Inaki Williams, Iker Muniain, Alex Berenguer; Asier Villalibre
Barcelona Predicted XI (4-3-3): Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Jordi Alba, Clement Lenglet, Ronald Araujo, Sergino Dest; Miralem Pjanic, Frenkie de Jong, Pedri; Ousmane Dembele, Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann
Athletic Bilbao vs Barcelona Prediction
Barcelona's style of play has improved over the past few months but their profligacy in the final third has cost them several victories this season. Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann are yet to hit their stride in the penalty area and cannot afford to spurn gilt-edged chances going into this match.
Athletic Bilbao have shown glimpses of their potential but are yet to achieve consistency in La Liga. Barcelona are the better team on paper and should be able to edge the Basque side to a victory on Wednesday.
Prediction: Athletic Bilbao 1-2 Barcelona
Published 04 Jan 2021, 22:10 IST