Barcelona vs Athletic Bilbao

January 15, 2016
By: Milos Markovic

La Liga champions will be looking to continue with their 21-game unbeaten run as they prepare to welcome Athletic Bilbao, who lost only one of their last five matches and who are traveling to Barcelona in high spirits.

Barcelona aiming the fourth in a row

Catalan giants are keeping up their push towards the La Liga title as they sit second in the standings two points short of leaders Atletico Madrid, but with a game in hand due to their FIFA Club World Cup responsibilities at the end of last year. Barcelona have opened the new 2016 year with a draw at Espanyol, but have went on to record four straight triumphs across competitions. Blaugrana are coming off from the problematic 2-0 win at Espanyol in their third game in 15 days against local rivals. The game was marred by incidents which even left the Mayor ashamed and Barcelona will be looking to channel their negative energy towards the Athletic Bilbao encounter as they look to make it four in a row. Bilbao are definitely not to be underestimated, but Barcelona know their way around the Lions. Catalans are unbeaten in 26 of their last 28 matches against Bilbao in all competitions and will be looking to keep the positive run going. Enrique’s men have been in superb form of late with the team scoring as much as 17 goals in last four games. With Ballon d’Or winner in their ranks and in fantastic shape, Barcelona will have nothing to worry about.

Luis Enrique is faced with no major selection issues, as Rafinha remains the only unavailable player for the occasion.

Bilbao to push for Europe

Athletic Bilbao currently sit in eighth place with 28 points to the name, only two short of Eibar, who are occupying the final European slot. Well aware of the tough task that lies ahead, Athletic Bilbao will do their best to beat Barcelona in first of the three games against the Champions in January. Bilbao were paired off with Barcelona in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals on Friday afternoon with the Cup double is due to be played in the final week of the first month of 2016. Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao will have played four matches this season by the end of this month, and needless to say there are no secrets between the two sides. Barcelona and Bilbao opened the season with their Spanish Super Cup matchup, when Ernesto Valverde prepared a proper stun to the champions. Bilbao have been in fine form recently having lost only one of their last seven games in all competitions and their positive stint is for most part due to great performances by Inaki Williams, who has scored ten goals this season. The 21-year-old winger was the man of the hour last time out against Villarreal as it was thanks to his 20th-minute winner that the Lions claimed the maximum three points at their difficult trip.

Valverde is having several selection issues for his trip to Barcelona. Bilbao’s top goalscorer Aritz Aduriz is sidelined through suspension and Inaki Williams is once again expected to lead the way upfront. Ibai Gomez and Raul Garcia are injured, while Elustondo is under great doubt.


Barcelona are firm favourites to emerge victorious from the first of the three January meetings between two rivals. Athletic Bilbao have always been a tough opponent and I see them making things hard for the home team.

Top Pick: Half-time Draw    3.4 (12/5) @Bet365

Alternative Pick 1: Draw/Barcelona    4.75 (15/4) @BetVictor

Alternative Pick 2: Under 2.5 goals    3.2 (11/5) @PaddyPower

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