Saturday, April 13, 2024

Prediction: Athletic Bilbao vs Barcelona

Tom Dunstan in Free Soccer Predictions, La Liga 1 Mar 2024

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Verdict: Both teams to score

Best Odds: 4/6

Bookmaker: Luckster

In what could prove to be an enjoyable La Liga showdown on Sunday night, Barcelona will travel to San Mames when they meet Athletic Bilbao.

Athletic Bilbao

Starting with the hosts, punching their Copa del Rey final ticket thanks to a stunning second-leg performance earlier in the week, Athletic Bilbao will be desperate to pick up another heavyweight scalp here. Eventually storming their way to a 4-0 aggregate romp against Atletico Madrid, Ernesto Valverde’s men are dreaming of the chance to punch a famous Champions League ticket in 2024. Although the Lions might have been hit with a 3-1 defeat away at Real Betis last weekend, that is the only loss that Bilbao have suffered from any of their previous eight domestic appearances across all competitions. It should also be noted, Sunday’s hosts have continued to receive a fearsome reputation for their success at San Mames. In fact, including a 3-2 victory against Girona last month, Valverde’s side have won all of their previous 10 straight matchups in front of their own supporters – a run that stems all the way back to October 29th.

Team News

Missing out against Atletico Madrid in midweek and still dealing with a recent foot injury, former Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera remains a real doubt on Sunday night. Sustaining a recent muscle strain, veteran defender Yuri Berchiche faces a race against the clock to feature at San Mames.

Shown a second-half red card against Real Betis last week, 21-year-old Nico Williams will miss out here as the Spanish international serves a one-match ban. Notching 10 La Liga strikes this season and continuing to receive a string of plaudits, Gorka Guruzeta will spearhead Valverde’s charge here.

Barcelona

As for the visitors, while Barcelona might have long since accepted that they will be unable to defend their La Liga crown in 2024, the Spanish giants are enjoying a recent flurry. Last seen putting in a thumping performance as they breezed their way to a 4-0 romp at home against Getafe, the defending champions are unbeaten in all of their previous six appearances across all competitions. However, announcing last month that Xavi will be leaving his spot in the dugout at the end of the season, Sunday’s guests are simply looking to make another domestic statement here. Opening this weekend’s fixtures sat eight points adrift of Real Madrid and top spot, Barca should be worried by their most recent trip to San Mames. Crashing out of the Copa del Rey on January 24th following an action-packed 4-2 defeat against Athletic Bilbao, Xavi’s men are also seeking some welcomed defensive stability. In fact, the Catalonia-based heavyweights have registered just a pair of clean sheets from any of their previous 11 outings across all formats.

Team News

Dealing with what is a long-term muscle injury, Barcelona will once again be without the services of 20-year-old defender Alejandro Balde on Sunday night. Likewise, both still recovering from respective knee injuries, the duo of Ferran Torres and Gavi will not travel to San Mames this weekend.

Marking his full return with a goal against Getafe last week, Atletico Madrid loanee Joao Felix will once again partner Robert Lewandowski in the final third. Returning from a long-term back injury last month, German shot-stopper Marc-Andre ten Stegen will keep his spot between the sticks.

Key Factors to Consider

    • When Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona last met back on January 24th, the Lions picked up a 4-2 Copa del Rey victory at San Mames.
    • However, Barcelona have won all of their previous four La Liga meetings against Sunday’s hosts by an aggregate score of 10-0.
    • Xavi’s men have recorded just a pair of clean sheets from any of their previous 11 appearances across all competitions.
    • Athletic Bilbao have won all of their previous 10 straight matchups at San Mames.
    • All of Barcelona’s last 12 straight appearances away from the Nou Camp have finished with both teams finding the net.

    Conclusion

    With Sunday’s opponents playing out a thrilling six-goal classic when they met on Copa del Rey duties back on January 24th, neutrals will be hoping for another classic from San Mames. While Barcelona might be in the midst of a recent flurry, it is no secret that Xavi’s side are seeking some defensive stability. With the defending Spanish champions remarkably seeing all of their previous 12 straight away fixtures across all competitions finish with both teams finding the net, we are expecting a similar outcome here.

    Verdict: Both teams to score

    Best Odds: 4/6

    Bookmaker: Luckster

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Tom Dunstan


    Formerly of The Independent, Tom has spent the past six years as one of our senior writers and betting experts. Alongside working with numerous publications from across the globe, Tom also graduated from the University of Falmouth in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Digital Media.
    Spending almost the past decade working in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, he has also spent time featuring in sports radio. Tom can be followed on Instagram - @iamtomdunstan

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