Barcelona Buoyed by Europa Win
Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao will contest the latest edition of the third-most played fixture in Spanish history on Sunday. Fresh off of a Europa League triumph over Napoli, Barcelona will be feeling confident of getting all three points at home.
Bilbao is a tough team to defeat, though, as Barcelona have failed to win against them in their previous two meetings this season. Regardless, Barça is a sizable soccer betting favorite for Sunday’s match.
Barcelona vs Athletic Club Betting Preview
- Game: FC Barcelona vs Athletic Club
- Location: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain
- Date/Time: Sunday, 3 p.m. ET
Barcelona vs Athletic Club Head to Head
This will be the third time these two clubs meet this season. Their August La Liga meeting ended in a 1-1 draw while Athletic Club defeated Barcelona 3-2 in January in the Copa del Rey round of 16. Both matches were played in Bilbao as Athletic haven’t won at the Camp Nou since 2001. Barcelona are unbeaten in the last four La Liga meetings.
Barcelona Back in Business
Barcelona emphatically defeated Napoli 4-2 in the second leg of their Europa League knockout tie to win 5-3 on aggregate. It wasn’t much of a contest as Barcelona were up 3-1 at halftime and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sealed it in the 59th minute.
Aubameyang’s goal follows his hat trick in the 4-1 win over Valencia last weekend. He had a rough time at Arsenal for the past year or so but the change of scenery has appeared to benefit him. Barcelona needs him to continue producing in the home stretch of the season.
Usually a perennial Champions League contender, Xavi’s main objective will be to guide his side back in Europe’s top continental competition. There are two ways for Barcelona to do that: Through winning the Europa League, which they very well could do with Borussia Dortmund out of the picture, and finishing top four in La Liga.
They are in a good position to do so, currently in fourth with a game in hand over fifth-place Atletico Madrid. Barcelona have been a good pick to bet online in La Liga recently and are undefeated in their last eight league matches.
Under Ronald Koeman, Barça couldn’t buy a goal, but they’ve now scored in their last 14 matches in all competitions, even with leading scorer Memphis Depay out with Achilles tendon issues. He’s part of a long injury list that includes utility man Sergi Roberto, center back Samuel Umtiti, winger Ansu Fati and defenders Clement Lenglet and Alex Balde. Left back Jordi Alba is also suspended for Sunday’s match.
Offensive Uptick for Bilbao
Athletic Bilbao destroyed their biggest rivals, Real Sociedad, 4-0 in the Basque Derby last weekend. All four of Bilbao’s goals came in the last 25 minutes of the match and the first two were scored on corners by Dani Vivian and Oihan Sancet. Inaki Williams added a third in the 80th minute and the substitute Sancet also registered an assist. His pass to Iker Muniain led to a cool finish in the 89th minute.
The win was Bilbao’s first over their rivals since 2019 and the San Mames was electric last Sunday. Los Leones may only be in eighth in La Liga but they’re just five points outside of the top four. They’ve been one of the better soccer picks recently, winning five of their last seven matches in all competitions. Four goals is the most Bilbao have scored in a match all season and they’ve picked things up on offense recently.
After scoring two goals just three times in their first 17 La Liga matches, Los Leones have done it in their last three. Sancet may not be a regular starter, but he is Bilbao’s joint-leading scorer and their most productive player on a per-minute basis. He fills the role of super sub very well.
With the third-best defensive record in the league and Spain’s No. 1 keeper in Unai Simon, Bilbao are typically not an easy team to score upon. They’ve posted 10 shutouts in La Liga but have only done it once vs a team in the top six.
Marcelino has a fairly healthy roster at his disposal as Nico Williams is the only confirmed absence. Mikel Vesga was replaced due to injury on Sunday but his status is uncertain vs Barcelona.
Barcelona vs Athletic Club Prediction
The last eight league meetings have been decided by a goal or ended in a draw. There’s little reason to think that’ll change, especially with Barcelona on short rest and Athletic Bilbao’s defensive record.
Bet on Bilbao to cover the one-goal spread in the sportsbook in what should be an entertaining contest.