As we look ahead into our next game, Barça face Athletic Bilbao for the second time in the league. This fixture, is one that seems to come around a lot for us in the season, when you consider the copa Del Rey and super cup games. We always seem to be put up against them, so we have learnt a lot about them. Especially under head coach Marcelino.
We’ve played Bilbao twice so far this season and haven’t yet been able to beat them. Both games have come away from home. A 1-1 draw at the beginning of the league ,season under Koeman. Which was then followed by a 3-2 defeat in the copa Del Rey only a matter of weeks ago. Since then however, we have really taken a big step forward. In recent weeks we have shown the positive direction Xavi is taking us in.
Having played some fantastic football, scoring a load of goals and performing with a lot more arrogance and overall confidence. We’re not there yet and there’s still a long way to go, but this team is growing and we’re hoping to carry these good vibes on into the next week.
A quick look at our opponents
Atheltic Bilbao are always a tough team to play against. Regardless of form, they always seem to turn up against us and perform well. I’ve said before that they’re not exactly the most attractive team to watch, but they get the job done. The most important thing for us today is scoring that first goal. If we can do that, then we put ourselves in a very good position. They are a team that will frustrate us, and if they’re in any sort of winning position they will waste time. Not as much as a Bordelas team, but they’re still capable of winding us up. Going into the game, I’d say that both teams are riding high on confidence.
Of course with Barça, we’re not only coming off the back of a quite simply stunning display against Napoli. Scoring 4 goals at one of the most toughest stadiums away from home. Against one of the best defences in all of European football. Whilst in the meantime, playing so,e absolutely beautiful football and dominating a top European side. As for Bilbao, they’re heading into the game fresh from defeating Real Sociedad 4-0.
Of course the danger men for us are the usual suspects. Players which I feel seem to specifically perform well only against us. Inaki Williams and now obviously his brother Nico Williams are both very big threats. Both built for pure speed and inaki especially is someone who always seems to cause us problems.
As for his brother, he’s the younger of the two, but most probably the more technically gifted one. Last time out in thr league and the copa Del Rey, he caused us so many problems, so we’re going to have to ensure that our fullbacks are well aware of the danger of this guy. Last but not least, the one player who I always fear when we play Bilbao is their veteran talisman, Iker Muniain. Once again, so,some who reslly des turn up against Barça.
Whether that’s by making an assist or scoring the winning goal, this guy always has an impact on Bilbao in th game. And he’s someone we’re going to have to keep an eye on. He’ll pop up with something out of nowhere and we can’t afford for that to happen. It’s a team we can and should be beating, especially at our home. But they’re also a side that you shouldn’t.
In terms of how we will lineup, I can’t really see much changing from how we lined up against Napoli. It was such a dominant performance against a top team, so I can’t see Xavi changing much. Apart from the changes that will be forced, such as Jorid Alba.
Alba is booked for tonight’s game after an accumulation of yellow cards. It’s such an shame and is a huge miss for us considering how well he has performed in the last few games. Scoring and assisting in almost every game and really being a reference for some of our attacks. It’s a massive blow, especially when you consider the good form he’s in. For this reason, Dest will most likely take his place at LB after improving so much in recent weeks.
Dani Alves will finally return after a 2 match suspension too which is a great piece of news. Apart from that, I can’t see much else changing. Maybe Gavi might come in after being rested against Napoli, but that might be the only other change.
Alves. Araujo. Pique. Dest
Frenkie. Busi. Pedri
Dembele. Aubameyang. Gavi