Athletic Bilbao vs FC Barcelona / LaLiga – Duels between rivals from Basque and Catalonia are always especially interesting, which is also the case now, even though Barcelona is more successful. They are the leaders on the table and have won 24 points more than Athletic, which is in the lower part of the table. However, the team from Bilbao has been playing better lately, though they lost in the last round. Barcelona has only played a draw at home in the last round, with a draw in the Cup against Real. Their mutual duel in the first round of this season ended with 1-1 at Nou Camp.
Athletic Bilbao vs FC Barcelona begins 10.02.2019 at 20:45 CET
Athletic is in a little better situation now and they managed to get out of the relegation zone, even though they are far from the safe harbour. They only have three points more than the relegation zone before this round and it is clear they should not relax. They had a nice series of seven rounds without defeat, and it has improved their placement even though they played three draws in that series. Everything was interrupted in the last round against their big rival from Basque, Real Sociedad.
That is always a special match and it is certain that defeat hurts, but they simply could not parry them and they lost for the first time since they were taken over by coach Garitano. He did not want to change the team that has defeated Betis with 1-0 two rounds ago, but he was forced because of de Marcos’ suspension, so Ibai Gomez returned to the team. Now de Marcos returns in the team at the best time to take over the place at the right back, because Cape is absent due to yellow cards. Benat and Raul Garcia will also be in the starting lineup this time.
Probable lineups Athletic Bilbao: Herrerin – de Marcos, Yeray, I.Martinez, Berchiche – Dani Garcia, Benat – Ibai Gomez, Raul Garcia, Muniain – Williams
Barcelona has only won twice in the previous five games and when that is the case, then they cannot be satisfied at all. This is for the Catalans’ standards very bad, although they have annulled their only defeat during that period in the Cup against Sevilla, with a brilliant performance in the rematch at home. In the previous championship round, Barcelona has defeated Valencia on their field after losing with 2-0. They were saved by Messi with two goals, but he also got injured, which is of course always concerning for Barcelona.
When Messi does not play, then the problems in the game are obvious and it was evident in the first match of the Cup semi-finals against Real at Nou Camp. They failed to outplay their big rivals and did not deserve to win, while Messi only entered in the second half of the game. They will have a big fight in the rematch, which could be a problem for Barcelona as well at San Mames because Messi is again questionable, while J.Albe will certainly not be in the team. Arthur is also out of action, but Dembele returns and he will play instead of Messi.
Probable lineups FC Barcelona: ter Stegen – Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, S.Roberto – Busquets, Vidal, Rakitić – Dembele, L.Suarez, Coutinho
Athletic Bilbao vs FC Barcelona PICK
Athletic is playing much better lately, though they lost in the last round. They will now, of course, have a big motive in front of their supporters, while Barcelona is again in a bad period, and they are weakened and definitely vulnerable in this game in which the host is not without a chance.
Pick: both teams will score
Odds: 1.66 at bet365 (down to 1.57 can be played)
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