Match Preview: Athletic Club vs Barcelona


La Liga officially kicks off tomorrow as defending champions, Barcelona begin their campaign with an away trip to the San Mames in Bilbao as they take on Athletic Club.

The Blaugrana have once again spent big in the transfer market this summer as they welcomed Antoine Griezmann, Frenkie De Jong and Junior Firpo. With some new faces amongst the already established stars, Ernesto Valverde will be hoping to lift his third LaLiga title in a row.

The home side were silent throughout the window, bringing in no new faces, however they see some departures including Mikel Rico, Xabi Etxeita, Sabin Merino, Ander Iturraspe and Markel Susaeta. The club did however fend off interest in their star forward, Inaki Williams, as Manchester United were reportedly considering activating his release clause prior to deadline day.

Team News:

Barcelona: The Catalans will be without star forward and captain, Lionel Messi. The Argentina international injured his calf during a training session which resulted in him missing much of the preseason preparations. Barça will also be without newly signed goalkeeper Neto following an injury to his hand, he is expected to be out for anywhere between 6-8 weeks.

Athletic Club: The Basque side have zero injury issues going into the game against the LaLiga champions.


Whilst Barcelona may have comfortably won the league last season, Athletic Club were not an easy game for the side. During both meetings, the clubs drew with a 0-0 and 1-1 result respectively. Bilbao largely played well in both games, initially taking the lead at the Nou Camp through Oscar De Marcos. His fortunes were reversed at San Mames, the defender was sent off in a largely unspectacular game that ended 0-0.

Whilst they finished agonisingly close to a Europa League spot last season, Athletic do not usually enjoy games against Barcelona. Their two draws last season represent 2 out of 9 draws whilst Barcelona leads in the win column with 29 to Bilbao’s mere 4.

With Messi out of the game, Barcelona fans may be concerned. Whilst they may have added Antoine Griezmann to the line-up, the Blaugrana often struggle without the Argentine. Last season he contributed 40% of Barcelona’s goals in the league (36 out of 90). With their talisman out, will Bilbao be able to pounce on this possible opportunity?


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