noscript image

Athletic Bilbao v Barcelona: Preview and possible line-ups

Athletic Bilbao v Barcelona - Preview and possible line-ups. EFE

Athletic Bilbao v Barcelona: Preview and possible line-ups

We look ahead to this weekend's final La Liga clash between Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona.

TEAM NEWS

Athletic Bilbao

The trio of Inigo Lekue, Mikel Rico and Aritz Aduriz will, yet again, be unavailable for Bilbao through suspension, while Garitano is likely to be considering changes in the aftermath of their defeat to Real Sociedad.

Markel Susaeta will hope to be involved in Sunday night's game as he was an unused substitute during the Basque derby. While Bernat and Raul Garcia both came off the bench for Athletic in that derby, they could start this match against Barcelona.

Barcelona

Valverde's side have drawn their last two against Valencia and Real Madrid in the league and Copa del Rey respectively but will be confident of putting three points on the board ahead of travelling to Bilbao, after a tight turn-around of games.

A thigh problem for Messi means there is doubt over his fitness again but the Argentine has been training separately in a bid to be back to fitness ahead of Barca's trip to Athletic. Umtiti, who has missed Barcelona's last few games, has returned to light training but won't be at Valverde's disposal for this match as he is still in the process of recovering from a knee injury. The same can be said for Rafinha and Jasper Cillessen.

Nelson Semedo and Sergi Roberto should start in the full-back positions as Jordi Alba serves a one-match suspension.

Dembele will be thrown into the mix as he seems to have recovered from an ankle injury and a fever, while Brazilian midfielder Arthur will be sidelined for up to four weeks with a hamstring issue.

MANAGERS' THOUGHTS

Athletic Bilbao manager Gaizka Garitano on the threat posed by Barcelona and his options in midfield and attack.

"You have to play hard against Barcelona and be bold when you don’t have the ball. They are scoring a lot of goals and besides defending we have to score goals.”

“I’m happy with everyone but in the midfield we have a lot of players and I can’t call them all. Mikel Rico just came from an injury and I see other who can offer more right now. He needs more time in training. Kodro is a specific central forward that we have now. Guruzeta is more of a second striker and Aduriz isn’t available to us. He has come into the team very well and we are happy to have him.”

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde on Lionel Messi's fitness and other players' recovery from injuries

"We have to wait until training to make a decision [on Messi]. We didn’t want to take too many risks in the cup game and tomorrow is a similiar situation. We’ll see what decision we make, it depends what he says, how he feels. He’s ok, but if he was absolutely 100% then he would most certainly play and if not we’ll have to make a decision."

 

"Umtiti joined in the first part of training yesterday nothing more than that. The idea is for him to gradually rejoin the team. Dembele did the full training session yesterday. It’s a different short-term injury. Today we’ll make the final decision on whether he can play tomorrow."

FORM GUIDE

Athletic Bilbao v Barcelona - Preview and possible line-ups

DID YOU KNOW?

In this season's earlier equivalent encounter, the points were shared in a 1-1 draw. Barcelona's last visit to Bilbao in the league was in October 2017 and saw them win 2-0. Bilbao have not beaten Barcelona in a home league match since December 2013. 

POSSIBLE LINE-UPS

Athletic Bilbao:
Herrerin; Capa, Alvarez, Inigo, Yuri; R Garcia, Bernat, D Garcia; Cordoba, Williams, Muniain

Barcelona:
Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Semedo; Busquets, Rakitic, Vidal; Dembele, L Suarez, Messi

Olivia Gidman

Olivia Gidman

news 53 RANK 27
READS 430K RANK 23
More news author

Follow BeSoccer on Facebook