Preview: Barcelona vs. Athletic Bilbao

Preview: Barcelona vs. Athletic Bilbao

Barcelona will be looking to stretch their unbeaten run of form in La Liga to 10 matches when they welcome Athletic Bilbao to Camp Nou on Sunday night.

The Catalan giants are currently fourth in the table, 15 points behind division leaders Real Madrid, while Athletic occupy eighth, two points behind sixth-placed Villarreal heading into the next set of fixtures.

Barcelona are back at Camp Nou this weekend after two successful away trips, beating Valencia 4-1 in the league last weekend before recording a 4-2 victory at Napoli on Thursday in the second leg of their Europa League knockout round playoff tie to advance to the next stage 5-3 on aggregate.

Xavi’s side are not in a title race this season, currently sitting down in fourth spot in the table, 15 points behind leaders Real Madrid, but they are only four points behind third-placed Real Betis and will certainly be targeting a top-three this term, which would not be a disaster considering their problems early in the season.

Barcelona chiefs are allegedly prepared to back Xavi in this summer’s transfer window, having been impressed with his work at the helm, and the club are actually unbeaten in the league since the start of December, winning five and drawing four of their last nine top-flight fixtures.

The Catalan outfit have won seven, drawn two and lost two of their 11 home league matches this season to collect 23 points, and they will be coming up against an Athletic side that have lost just twice on their travels in Spain’s top flight, picking up 17 points in the process.

Barcelona played out a 1-1 draw with Athletic in the reverse match at San Mames earlier this season but recorded a 2-1 victory when the pair locked horns at Camp Nou last term.
Athletic, meanwhile, will enter this weekend’s contest off the back of a thumping 4-0 win over Real Sociedad, with Dani Vivian, Oihan Sancet, Inaki Williams and Iker Muniain on the scoresheet in the derby success.

The victory left the Basque outfit in eighth position in the table, just two points behind sixth-placed Villarreal, and there is no question that they will be targeting a Europa League finish come the end of the season.

Athletic have won three of their last four in Spain’s top flight, while they have lost just one of their last six during an impressive run of form, so the visitors will enter this weekend’s contest full of coincidence.

Marcelino’s side are also in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey, drawing 1-1 with Valencia in the first leg of their last-four tie, with the second leg due to take place at the start of March.

As mentioned, the Lions, who finished 10th last term, have only lost two of their 13 away league matches during the 2021-22 campaign, but they have not avoided defeat at Camp Nou in Spain’s top flight since September 2018 and will certainly be the underdogs heading into this contest.

Barcelona La Liga form:
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Barcelona form (all competitions):
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Athletic Bilbao La Liga form:
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Athletic Bilbao form (all competitions):
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We say: Barcelona 2-1 Athletic Bilbao
Barcelona have won 19 of their last 23 home matches against Athletic in all competitions, and it is difficult to ignore that record when picking a result here. Athletic were excellent last time out against Real Sociedad, but we are expecting Barcelona to make it three straight victories with a narrow success at Camp Nou.

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