Barcelona return to action after the winter break with a Copa del Rey round-of-16 first-leg clash against Athletic Bilbao at San Mames on Thursday night. Don't miss our Athletic Bilbao - Barcelona betting preview with the predictions, betting tips, best odds, probable lineups, streaming links, bookie offers and no deposit free bets on the Spanish Cup!
ATHLETIC BILBAO v BARCELONA BETTING PREVIEW
Athletic Bilbao reached the round of 16 of the Copa del Rey by beating Racing Santander 5-1 over two legs in December. The Basques have already lost 1-0 to Barcelona in Bilbao in the league this season. Ernesto Valverde's men are scoring plenty of goals this season, but at the other end of the pitch, things aren't so great for the Basque side. They have managed just one La Liga clean sheet at home this season. Anyway, since losing to Barcelona in August, Athletic have won 10 of their 11 home games in all competitions.
Aritz Aduriz is expected to lead the line, while Inaki Williams, Iker Muniain and Raul Garcia will start as offensive midfielders. Oscar de Marcos and Ager Aketxe are both out injured for the hosts, but Benat Etxebarria has recovered from a muscle injury and is available to play. 21 year old defender Yeray Alvarez was diagnosed with testicular cancer over Christmas but has since had surgery which is reported to have gone well.
Barcelona started their Copa del Rey title defence with an 8-1 aggregate win over Hercules. Their last 4 matches have seen them score 18 goals and concede just once. The Blaugrana currently sit 2nd in La Liga standings, 3 points below Real Madrid but their fierce rivals have a ame in hand. Since Athletic’s shock 5-1 aggregate win in the 2015 Spanish Super Cup, Barcelona have won all 5 meetings with the Basques, including a 5-2 in the quarter-finals of last season's Copa del Rey en route to winning the cup.
Manager Luis Enrique has a fully fit squad to choose from with the exception of goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen. We expect to see Arda Turan in Barca’s starting line-up once again as he hass shown great form in his most recent appearances and bagged six goals in his last six appearances. Up front, the MSN trio - Messi, Suarez and Neymar - is expected to start but Luis Enrique could decide to rest one of his three stars following an extended Christmas break.
ATHLETIC BILBAO v BARCELONA PROBABLE LINEUPSAtheltic Bilbao (4-2-3-1): Iraizoz; Lekue, San Jose, Boveda, Balenziaga; Benat, Rico; Williams, Garcia, Muniain; Aduriz.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Vidal, Pique, Umtiti, Digne; Rakitic, Busquets, Turan; Messi, Suarez, Neymar.
ATHLETIC BILBAO v BARCELONA ODDS
|ATHLETIC BILBAO||5.50 with||Bet £10, win £55.00|
|THE DRAW||4.20 with||Bet £10, win £42.00|
|BARCELONA|| 1.67 with||Bet £10, win £16.70|
ATHLETIC BILBAO v BARCELONA PREDICTIONS
|OUR PICKS||BEST ODDS||BOOKMAKER|
|Athletic Bilbao or Draw Double Chance||2.32|
|Both teams to score||1.67|
|2-2 Correct Score||16.00|
|Penalty awarded YES||3.40|
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