Match Preview – Athletic Bilbao vs FC Barcelona
Match Round – La Liga 2021/22 – Matchday 2
Date and Time – 21st August 2021, 10pm CET (1:30am IST)
Venue – San Mamés, Bilbao
Referee – Juan Martinez Munuera
FC Barcelona have begun their La Liga campaign for the 21/22 season with an impressive 4-2 win against Real Sociedad in the first match of the season at Camp Nou. The recent drama surrounding the transfer window and wage cuts did not seem to deter this Barcelona side from scoring 4 against their formidable opponents. Ronald Koeman’s 4-3-3 line-up on the 15th seemed to work well enough the first 70 minutes of the game, scoring 3 goals and dominating possession. It was in the last 20 that Barcelona faltered and managed to concede 2. The saving grace was Braithwaite’s last-minute goal, but it raises a few questions regarding the upcoming match against Athletic Club.
While no one can argue against this Barcelona squad’s ability to score goals, what we need to see in this match is just how strong the Barcelona defence can be. Given the tenacity of the opponents they are playing against, this match will make clear the actual state of the Barcelona defence.
Athletic Club had a lukewarm 20/21 La Liga campaign, losing the last three matches and stay smack-dab in the middle of the La Liga table, it is interesting to see what changes this squad is going to bring this season. Athletic have a history of rough, aggressive football, a lot of which Barcelona has been subject to. The win against Athletic in the Copa del Rey final last season has been the last time FCB and Athletic Club have come face to face with each other before this matchday. The memory of that win should be enough to fuel Barcelona players into a strong victory tonight.
Possible Line-Ups –
Barca (4-3-3) – Neto, Dest, Pique, Garcia, Alba; Busquets, De Jong, Pedri, Memphis, Braithwaite, Griezmann.
Out for the fixture – Ter Stegen, Aguero, Mingueza, Dembele, Umtiti, Moriba, Pjanic, Fati
Athletic (4-4-2) – Agirrezabala; Lekue, Yeray, Martinez, Balenziaga; Berenguer, Garcia, Vencedor, Muniain; Williams, Garcia
Match Predictions – A firm belief in the attacking prowess of Barcelona, but the dubious nature of the squad’s defensive ability shows signs of a 3-1 victory for the blaugrana tonight.