MX23RW : Wednesday, July 28 01:12:43| >> :120:22280:22280:
Jan 6, 2021 at 8pm UK at San Mamés Barria
Athletic BilbaoAthletic Bilbao
2-3
BarcelonaBarcelona
Williams (3'), Muniain (90')
Vesga (27'), Garcia (70')
FT(HT: 1-2)
Pedri (14'), Messi (38', 62')
Lenglet (57')

Preview: Athletic Bilbao vs. Barcelona - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's La Liga clash between Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Barcelona face Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday evening with the opportunity to move into third position in the La Liga table.

Meanwhile, Athletic head into the contest at the San Mames Stadium with a new manager having replaced Gaizka Garitano with Marcelino.


Match preview

Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman pictured in October 2020© Reuters

Sitting 10 points adrift of Atletico Madrid having played a game more than the leaders, Ronald Koeman will want to make sure of third spot before thinking about further targets.

Nevertheless, putting together a six-match unbeaten streak has given the Dutchman reasons to be optimistic for the second half of the season.

Performances are far from the level expected at Camp Nou, but Koeman would have taken some satisfaction from the clean sheet recorded during Sunday's 1-0 success at bottom club Huesca.

Despite criticism regarding his attack, Barcelona have the joint-best record in the division, scoring the same amount of times as Real Madrid having played one game fewer.

While there is a vulnerability about the Catalan giants at this stage of their transitional period, it may only take an improvement from Lionel Messi to make a significant difference in the title race.

Although Athletic boss Garitano had been under pressure for a number of weeks, the win over Elche at the weekend felt like a step in the right direction.

However, the decision has been made to replace Garitano with former Valencia manager Marcelino, who has been out of work since September 2019.

The arrival of Marcelino is somewhat of a coup for Athletic after their indifferent form in La Liga, but he will be aware that his reputation will count for little if he cannot help his players find some consistency.

On the plus side, seven points have now been collected from four matches, and the 55-year-old may be arriving at San Mames at the perfect time.

Athletic Bilbao La Liga form: DLWDLW

Barcelona La Liga form: WWDWDW


Team News

Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann pictured on October 17, 2020© Reuters

Koeman is likely to make a number of changes to his Barcelona XI, including handing a recall to Antoine Griezmann.

Miralem Pjanic should get the nod over Sergio Busquets, while Francisco Trincao is in contention for his first league start of the campaign.

With Marcelino only having a couple of days to work with his new squad, it remains unclear whether alterations will be made to Athletic's strategy for this game.

If a switch is made to 4-4-2, Alex Berenguer and Iker Muniain could line up on opposite flanks, with Inaki Williams operating through the middle.

Athletic Bilbao possible starting lineup:
Simon; Capa, Nunez, Martinez, Berchiche; Berenguer, Vesga, Garcia, Muniain; Williams, Villalibre

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Dest, Araujo, Lenglet, Alba; Pedro, Pjanic, De Jong; Messi, Griezmann, Dembele


SM words green background

We say: Athletic Bilbao 0-2 Barcelona

Despite much of their recent criticism being deserved, Barcelona still head into this contest as the clear favourites. While we do not expect a match that is easy on the eye, the visitors should have enough quality in the final third to claim a hard-fought win.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data


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Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman pictured in October 2020
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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
JapanJapan103518
United StatesUnited States98825
ChinaChina95822
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia77418
Great BritainGreat Britain45413
Today's Olympic highlights header

Wednesday's key events


ROWING
· Team GB have dominated the men's coxless fours in recent Olympics, winning on each of the last five occasions, but this year they face some stiff competition. They are one of four rowing medal contenders for Great Britain today (2.10am)

SWIMMING
· Katie Ledecky and Ariarne Titmus face off again in the women's 200m freestyle final, with the latter having already come out on top in the 400m event (2.41am)
· Team GB's Abbie Wood is among the medal contenders in the women's 200m individual medley final, while teammate Alicia Wilson will also take part. USA's Kate Douglass was the fastest qualifier, while world and Olympic record holder Katinka Hosszu is also involved (3.45am)
· Katie Ledecky could make it two golds in one morning as she goes into the 1500m freestyle final as heavy favourite, having broken the Olympic record in qualifying (3.54am)
· Team GB were by far the fastest qualifiers for the men's 4x200m freestyle relay final and will therefore be favourites for another gold in the pool (4.26am)

RUGBY SEVENS
· Team GB take on New Zealand in the first men's semi-final, having been beaten by reigning champions Fiji but then come from behind to overcome USA on day two (3am)
· The sevens gold medal match takes place at Tokyo Stadium, with the winner of Great Britain vs. New Zealand taking on either Argentina or Fiji (10am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· Joe Fraser and James Hall compete for Team GB in the men's all-around final (11.15am-2.10pm)

CYCLING
· Anna Shackley will take part in the women's road time trial (from 3.30am)
· Geraint Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart have medal ambitions for Great Britain in the men's road time trial, although both will need to recover from the crash they suffered on Saturday (6am)

DIVING
· Jack Laugher bids to retain his men's 3m synchro diving title alongside new partner Daniel Goodfellow (7am)

EQUESTRIAN
· Charlotte Dujardin will look to add to her already legendary status with a third successive Olympic individual dressage title (9.30am-1.25pm)

> Today's schedule in full
Todays Game Header Right
Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Athletic Bilbao00000000
2Atletico MadridAtletico00000000
3Barcelona00000000
4CadizCadiz00000000
5Celta Vigo00000000
6AlavesAlaves00000000
7ElcheElche00000000
8Espanyol00000000
9Getafe00000000
10Granada00000000
11Levante00000000
12Mallorca00000000
13Osasuna00000000
14Rayo Vallecano00000000
15Real Betis00000000
16Real Madrid00000000
17Real Sociedad00000000
18Sevilla00000000
19Valencia00000000
20Villarreal00000000

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