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Athletic Club vs Barcelona: Team news, possible lineups, what to expect

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Photo via Imago

Subsequent to their thumping 4-2 victory over Real Sociedad, Barcelona travel to the Basque country to face an old foe in Athletic Club. 


Date and Kickoff Time: 21st August; 20:00 CET
Stadium: San Mames
Competition: La Liga
Referee: Juan Martinez

Overview

The last time Fútbol Club Barcelona and Athletic Club faced off, the Catalans ripped them apart in the final of the Copa Del Rey. This was a perfect way to exact revenge on Los Leones, who beat them in the Supercopa final just two months prior. 

Owing to their enthralling opening day victory over Real Sociedad, Barça will be looking to replicate the same world-class performance away from home. The Basque giants are without a shadow of a doubt one of Barça’s biggest and longest-standing rivals and command respect.

What to expect from Barcelona?

Barcelona had the perfect start to life after Lionel Messi in their opening game against Real Sociedad. The Catalans won by a staggering four goals to two, but the scoreline doesn’t do real justice to the sheer superiority Barça had over their rivals.

Neto did not have the best of evenings in goal but will remain there nonetheless. The defence should stay as is given the fact there have been no injuries. Despite expectations, Pedri Gonzalez will play against Bilbao, but he will enjoy a much-deserved rest afterwards. His partners in midfield will remain unchanged, naturally, along with the rest of the attack.

Barça are expected to perform exactly the way they did in the previous encounter. The Garnet and Blue used an intense press, coupled with a fantastic offensive presence against their visitors last weekend. Much of, if not exactly the same, is expected from them in this crunch tie. With Ronald Koeman celebrating one year at Barcelona, he’d expect a top-notch performance.

What to expect from Athletic Club?

Athletic Club did not have the most pleasant of starts to La Liga. The Basque giants played a lacklustre goalless draw, and for the significant portions of the first half, they were the interior side. If not for Elche’s abysmal finishing, the scoreline could have been far different.

Los Leones are quite a dynamic side. They possess a threat from the counter, set-piece, and more often than not, they are hard to breakthrough. They have the adaptability to play a low block when the game requires it and be as offensive as they please.

Marcelino, we meet again. (Photo via Imago)

The lineup is largely expected to remain the same as it was on matchday one, with the exception of a few due to injury. The style, however, might not. With the presence of Iker Muniain, they have an imminent threat from set-piece chances and crosses.

He was at the heart of Barça’s heartbreaking loss in the Supercopa. A Messi-less team is one harder to concede against, and the Basque side as a whole will be more confident in their defensive game.

Marquee player

Iker Muniain

Muniain loves playing against Barça. (Photo via Imago)

As captain and leader, Iker Muniain is an excellent player. Out wide, he consistently provides a threatening presence through his brilliant crosses into the box. He equally demonstrates his ability from set-pieces, a facet of his play he brutally hurt Barcelona with during their Supercup victory last season.

Against Elche, he was one of the few bright spots, and with Barça possibly at their most vulnerable in years, there is no better chance to get a league win against the old enemy than now.


Match Facts

Athletic Club

Elche 0-0 Athletic Club  | La Liga
Liverpool 1-1 Athletic Club  | Preseason Friendly
Southampton 1-3 Athletic Club | Preseason Friendly
Union Berlin 2-1 Athletic Club | Preseason Friendly
Dortmund 0-2 Athletic Club | Preseason Friendly

Position in La Liga

11th
1 point in 1 game
0 wins, 1 draw, 0 losses
0 goals scored, 0 conceded
0 goal difference

FC Barcelona

Previous games: WWWLW

Barcelona 4-2 Real Sociedad | La Liga
Barcelona 3-1 Girona | Preseason Friendly
Barcelona 3-0 Juventus | Preseason Friendly
RB Salzburg 2-1 Barcelona | Preseason Friendly
VfB Stuttgart 0-3 Barcelona | Preseason Friendly
Barcelona 3-1 Girona | Preseason Friendly

Position in La Liga

3rd
3 points in 1 game
1 win, 0 draws, 0 losses
4 goals scored, 2 conceded
+2 goal difference

Head-to-head record

Athletic Club 0-4 Barcelona | Copa Del Rey final 2021
Barcelona 2-1 Athletic Club  | La Liga 2020/21
Athletic Club 3-2 Barcelona | Supercopa España 2021
Athletic Club 2-3 Barcelona | La Liga 2020/21
Barcelona 2-1 Athletic Club | La Liga 2019/20

Key stats

  • Real Sociedad are unbeaten in each of their last four opening La Liga matches (2W,2D).
  • Barcelona have beaten Real Sociedad in every season at home since 1995.
  • Barcelona have not lost against a basque side at home since September 2016 against Deportivo Alaves (1-2).
  • Barcelona have not lost any of their home opening matches since 1939 against Espanyol. 
  • Real Sociedad have suffered 64 away defeats against Barcelona.

Team news

Athletic Club

Injury: Paredes, Capa, Cordoba, Kodro, De .arcos, Nolaskolan, Berchiche

Possible line-up:

4-4-2:

Aguirrezabala
Lekuw · Álvarez · Martínez · Balenziaga
Berenguer · Vencedor · García · Muniain
Williams · García

Coach: Marcelino García Toral

FC Barcelona

Injuries: Ansu Fati, Sergio Aguero, Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Ousmane Dembele, Oscar Mingueza

Possible line-up

4-3-3

Neto
Dest · Araujo · Pique · Alba
De Jong · Busquets · Pedri
Griezmann · Braithwaite · Depay


Prediction

Athletic Club are missing a few key players, and Barcelona should be able to take advantage of this. Their opening performance against Real Sociedad should instil some confidence into them, but the Blaugrana know that a trip to San Mames is always a daunting one. The writing on the script should have Barcelona winning, but as always, it will be an uphill task against Marcelino’s men.

Barca Universal prediction: Athletic Club 0-2 Barcelona

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