FC Barcelona vs. Athletic Bilbao / Copa del Rey – One of the derbies of this round of competition in the Spanish Cup has lived up to expectations. We have uncertainty, because Athletic finally managed to defeat Barcelona at home and thus prolong the hope that they can eliminate a great opponent. Their problem is that they received the goal in Bilbao, and because of these 2-1, at the end Barcelona is still the favourite for passage, because it is known that they are at home able to reach greater difference than one goal behind. However, Barcelona is not exactly in the right shape and their Sunday's hosting against Villarreal has proved it, where they were rescuing the match in the last moments. Athletic was no better and they played a draw at home with Alaves. Tradition when these rivals are meeting at Nou Camp is on the side of the Catalans and last season it was even 6-0 in the championship, and in the Cup 3-1, which would now also be enough. Begins: 11.01.2017. – 21:15 CET
After a short winter break, Barcelona is again in the crisis and they failed to celebrate on either of the two games played in the new year. They were defeated in Bilbao in the first match of the round of sixteen in the Cup and this is even more acceptable than the draw on Sunday at El Madrigal against Villarreal, because they lost significant two points and give a chance to Real Madrid to increase their advantage when they play that match with Valencia. Now they are already five points behind with one match more and are actually in great danger of losing the championship title. They were losing in that match against Villarreal and then it was they were again saved by Messi's great goal in the finish for the final 1-1.
They were losing in Bilbao after the first half with 2-0, but in the second part Messi also excelled and scored at least one goal. They have not used in the finish the fact that they had even two players more on the field and they will have to catch up with that one goal behind. Coach Luis Enrique cannot count on midfielder Rakitic and he was not also in the team against Villarreal, so A.Gomes had to jump instead. The surprise was Digne instead of J.Alba on the left back. They should now still play at full strength, with the proviso that D.Suarez will probably replace A.Gomes.
Probable lineups FC Barcelona: ter Stegen – S.Roberto, Pique, Mascherano, J.Alba – Busquets, Iniesta, D.Suarez – Messi, L.Suarez, Neymar
Athletic gave their best in the first game against Barcelona, and they really looked great on the field in the first half. They had a lead of 2-0 and were on the right track to maybe get a capital advantage. However, they could not keep the pace in the second half and they received one goal, which can be fatal for them now. Of course, that preserved 2-0, it would still be no guarantee against Barcelona at Nou Camp, so they will have a difficult task.
So, they will have an even more difficult task now, and they will not certainly be complete because Iturraspe and Raul Garcia got suspended in the first match, so they do not have the right to play in this match, while Yeray, de Marcos and Aketxe are also absent from before. On Sunday they played against Alaves at home and they failed to break the resistance of the Basque rivals, so the match ended with 0-0. Coach Valverde rested Williams, San Jose and Boveda, while additional problem is the injury of Arrizabalaga, but Iraizoz is usually among the goal posts in the Cup.
Probable lineups Athletic Bilbao: Iraizoz – Boveda, Etxeita, Laporte, Balenziaga – San Jose, Benat – Williams, Eraso, Iker Muniain – Aduriz
FC Barcelona vs. Athletic Bilbao PICK
Barcelona is shaken and they urgently need one good result, which in this case means placement in the Cup quarterfinals. Therefore, we expect that Athletic's goal would be under constant siege from the first minute and the guests will not probably endure, especially since they are weakened by the absence of several key players.
Pick: Asian Handicap -2 Barcelona
Odds: 1.65 at bet365 (down to 1.57 can be played)