Now that the UEFA Champions League and Europa League midweek results are in the books, we turn our attention to the best of the weekend’s action in Spain. Several exciting games are on the schedule, and that’s great news for armchair fans preparing to keep pace with the results. The one European match we’ve got our eye on will be played in La Liga, where Athletic Bilbao hold home advantage as they attempt to derail Barcelona’s title journey. The visitors are the frontrunners in the race and have a chance to snatch the trophy from the clutches of bitter rivals Real Madrid, who won in canter last season.
Only one of these teams has ambitions of winning the La Liga championship trophy this season, but there is a lot to play for in both camps. The three points will prove helpful for the locals, who are stuck on a three-game winning streak, sinking into midtable as a result. To get back on track and move towards a European finish, they will need to return to winning ways, especially at home. Needing to win against the league leaders is not ideal, but Bilbao will be propelled by passionate and loyal supporters. Will it be enough?
Sunday’s game – set for a 20:00 GMT kick-off – will be the second time these sides have met in competitive action this season. The previous game was played at the Camp Nou, where Barca registered a 4–0 win over Athletic Bilbao for the second time in a row. Interestingly, each of Barcelona’s last three wins over Bilbao has produced a 4-0 scoreline, and this will attract the attention of those who like to follow statistics and trends when making their predictions. Keep reading for our in-depth preview and thoughts on how this game could play out on Sunday evening.
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Rocky spell for Bilbao
Athletic Bilbao has the unenviable task of playing a Barcelona that is back at its best and most ferocious. To make matters worse for the followers of the locals, their team is without a win in any of their last three matches, which includes two losses and a draw. Scoring one point out of a possible nine made him unlikely to finish in the top-four and started the week in ninth with 33 points on the board. There is a need to return to winning ways, and it should come at the earliest.
Their points tally means Bilbao are already 11th ahead of Real Sociedad, who currently sit in fourth, on the final Champions League qualifying berth. The top six will all feature in European action next season, but sixth-placed Villarreal also enjoy a cushion over Bilbao with a four-point gap. Nobody inside the domestic dressing room will be ready to throw in the towel just yet, but if this winless run goes on for too long they could soon be staring at a bleak midtable finish, something supporters are more than happy to admit Will not happen.
Bilbao was last seen in action last Sunday when held to a goalless draw away from home against Rayo Vallecano. Both teams had chances to win that match and, after losing each of their two previous fixtures, there was nervousness in the Bilbao camp. A draw from a tricky tour would have given the players some much needed confidence and a clean sheet would have pleased the manager. That strong defense will be called into action again on Sunday, but will now face an even more ferocious attacking side in Barcelona.
barca are back with a bang
Barcelona faced a tough time last season and the club is yet to come out of the woods in terms of their financial troubles, but this year they look like their old selves. Spanish football giants were dumped out of the Champions League and Europa League early and in any other season, that could have cost the manager his post, but not this year. Now Barca fans are happy to focus solely on winning the league trophy from Real Madrid and they seem to be on the right track to achieve that.
La Liga’s latest updates show that after 24 games played, Barca are at the top of the table with 20 wins, two draws and a pair of losses with 46 goals scored and only eight goals conceded. Barca have won more games, lost fewer, scored more goals and conceded the fewest than any other team. That is why they are on top of the league and are on their way to the most important league title in their history. Plus, they’re showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
We last saw Barca in action a week ago when they bounced back from a rare defeat to beat a strong Valencia side 1-0. It wasn’t great and there’s no doubt that Barca would play better football, win games more comfortably, but they won the three points. Getting a win on the board is essential at this stage of the campaign as the fans know that the title is now theirs to lose. Having worked so hard to hit the front, we don’t think Barcelona will give up their spot without a fight.
athletic bilbao v barcelona prediction
Athletic Bilbao have home advantage but their recent form has been poor and it’s hard to get too excited about their chances of winning next with Barcelona. Away across the hall in the dressing room, keeping their lead and winning La Liga is a real possibility for Barca but they are under no illusions and know that nothing is yet achieved.
La Liga Odds
The pre-match betting odds on this game available at 22Bet have Athletic Bilbao to win at 3.32 with a draw at 3.3 and Barca at 2.225.
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