MX23RW : Saturday, July 31 13:22:02| >> :120:66090:66090:
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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ChinaChina21131246
JapanJapan175830
United StatesUnited States16171346
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AustraliaAustralia1031427
Great BritainGreat Britain891128
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Saturday's key events


TRIATHLON
· After silvers in both the men's and women's events, Team GB will be fancied to get on the podium again in the mixed relay (11.30pm-1am)

SWIMMING
· Touted as Michael Phelps's successor, Caeleb Dressel already has two gold medals from these Games and he will be going for a third in the men's 50m butterfly final (2.30am)
· It is Katie Ledecky vs. Ariarne Titmus III in the women's 800m freestyle final, with Ledecky entering as firm favourite (2.46am)
· Great Britain will be heavily fancied to add another gold medal to their swimming haul, having produced by far the fastest qualifying time for the mixed 4x100m medley relay final (3.43am)

ATHLETICS
· Dina Asher-Smith is one of three British women in the 100m semi-finals (3.01am-3.20am), and will hope to challenge for a medal in what is likely to be a star-studded final (1.50pm)
· The inaugural Olympic 4x400m mixed relay event concludes with Great Britain one of the eight finalists going for gold (1.35pm)

RUGBY SEVENS
· Team GB's dreams of an unlikely gold are still alive in the women's event as they face France in their semi-final (3.30am). The winners will face either New Zealand or Fiji in the gold medal match later in the day (10am)

SAILING
· Gold medals are up for grabs in the windsurfer - RS:X finals. Emma Wilson participates for Team GB in the women's final (6.33am), while Tom Squires is in action in the men's (7.33am)

TENNIS
· Following his shock semi-final defeat, ending his hopes of a Golden Slam in 2021, Novak Djokovic battles for bronze against Pablo Carreno Busta (7am)
· The women's singles event reaches its conclusion with the gold medal match between Belinda Bencic and Marketa Vondrousova

> Today's schedule in full
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Olympic Games Men's Football
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Portuguese Super Cup
Taca da Liga
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Scottish League One
Scottish League Two
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Russian Premier League
Ukrainian Premier League
Swedish Allsvenskan
Danish Superliga
Finnish Veikkausliiga
League of Ireland Premier
Belarusian Premier League
2.Bundesliga
Ligue 2
Major League Soccer
Brasileiro
Copa Diego Maradona
Uruguayan Primera Division
Liga MX
Chinese Super League
Tables
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