Thursday, December 5, 2019

Prediction: Athletic Club vs FC Barcelona

Juan Pablo Aravena in Free Soccer Predictions 15 Aug 2019

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Verdict: Over 2.5 goals scored – yes

Best Odds: 8/11

Bookmaker: 888sport

The 2019-20 La Liga season will begin on Friday with a thrilling encounter between Athletic Club and FC Barcelona. Two of the oldest, most historical teams in Spain will play the first match of the league campaign and while the reigning Liga champions will aim to begin their title defence with a strong performance, Bilbao will attempt to pull the upset in front of their fans. Kick-off for this match will be at 20:00 hrs BST.

Athletic Club

The Basque side had a decent run during preseason since they lost just once in eight matches (W4, D3, L1 — counting extra-time and penalties) and that run of matches included decent opposition such as West Ham United, Borussia Monchengladbach and AS Roma, among others. They will also try to begin their 2019-20 campaign on a strong note, essentially repeating what they did towards the end of the 2018/19 campaign when they went undefeated in each of their last five home outings (W4, D1). However, they have won just once in their last five home matches against the “Top 3” in Spain (Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid), meaning they could very well settle for a draw this time. Will Gaizka Garitano’s men take advantage of the fact that they will begin their campaign playing on home soil?

Team News

Athletic are expected to be at full strength ahead of this match.

FC Barcelona

Meanwhile, FC Barcelona could be in line to kick off their title defence without their best player, Lionel Messi, but that shouldn’t take anything away from the fact that they’re massive favourites entering this tie. Los Blaugranas thrived playing away from home during the 2018/19 LaLiga season, and registered an W11, D6, L2 mark over that span despite the fact they won just once in their last five (W1, D3, L1). Barca have also won four of the past five Liga titles, and they look as the favourites to repeat that once again given the strength and depth of their squad after adding names such as Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann during the summer transfer window. They are also backed up by the fact that they enter this tie on a four-game winning run in preseason. They defeated teams such as Napoli (twice) and Arsenal over that run. Now it’s time for Ernesto Valverde’s men to carry that form where it matters the most.

Team News

FC Barcelona do not have a lot of absentees, but it’s worth noting that Lionel Messi might not play here. The Argentinian superstar is reportedly a game-time decision ahead of this contest.

Key Factors to Consider

  • This will be the third time in five seasons that Athletic Bilbao open their LaLiga campaign against FC Barcelona. Barca won both games by a 1-0 score.
  • Since November 2014, Barcelona have lost only one LaLiga away game after scoring first.
  • Just one of the last 12 top-flight matches between these two sides held here has seen both teams score before half-time.
  • Each of the last four LaLiga matches between these two sides have featured under 2.5 goals scored.
  • Los Blaugranas are undefeated in their last six matches against Athletic in all competitions (W4, D2).

Conclusion

Despite recent tendencies in matches between these two sides, it’s worth noting that the last seven friendlies involving one of these two sides have had over 2.5 goals. That feisty run will continue here.

Verdict: Over 2.5 goals scored – yes

Best Odds: 8/11

Bookmaker: 888sport

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Juan Pablo Aravena


A freelance writer and sports analyst with almost five years of experience in the industry before joining SoccerNews, Juan Pablo Aravena is based in Chile and currently contributes to several publications and websites including SoccerNews, 12up, and Sports From The Basement, while also working as a fantasy beat writer for RotoWire, as a database editor for EA Sports, and as a football analyst for SmartOdds and InsideFutbol. His areas of focus are Serie A, Bundesliga, Premier League, LaLiga, and Ligue 1, but he has also written about MLS and South American football in the past.

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