Match Preview: FC Barcelona vs Athletic Club
Competition: La Liga
Date and Time: 31th Jan 2020; 9 pm CEST
Venue: Camp Nou
Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz
FC Barcelona will be facing Athletic Club today in the league, just two weeks after their last-minute defeat against them in the Supercopa de Espana finals. While Barca’s lacklustre performance against Athletic in the Supercopa was a nightmare, Barcelona in the domestic league has been in a wonderful form (suffering no loss in their last 9 games and being 4th on the Table)
Athletic Club, on the other hand, are at the 10th position on the table, going their last 7 away matches without a win. But we cannot discount the proficiency that this club and its players have. Barcelona has won only two of their last seven games against Athletic in all competitions (W2, D2, L3) with the loss being the most recent.
With Messi, Barça is more difficult to counter. There is a footballer who is above the rest and it’s Messi. – Marcelino, when asked about Messi playing in this fixture
This match is an opportunity for Barcelona to avenge against the humiliating loss in the Supercopa 2 weeks ago. Barcelona has faced Athletic Club twice in January already, with both teams winning one match. Barcelona are 4th on the La Liga table but with a win at Camp Nou tonight, they have the opportunity to go ahead of Real Madrid and clinch the 2nd position, just behind in-form Atletico.
Athletic Club, while not having the best start in the league, are on a roll after their defeat against Barcelona, winning 5 out of the 5 games they have played since (including defeating heavyweights like Real Madrid and Barcelona). Their coach Marcelino has definitely transformed the team for the better.
Team News and Expected Line-ups
Lionel Messi returned from his red card against Rayo Vallecano and scored a goal. He will be expected to start this fixture and bring his magic touch to the field. The defence will most probably have the youngster Araujo starting, seeing his stellar performance against Vallecano last match.
Griezmann has been playing well in these past matches and thus him starting is an almost given. Pedri and Messi have been magical and their link-up would be a sight to see. Ter Stegen will start in goal and given his recent form, it is a reassurance given that our defence options aren’t the most reliable (despite the addition of Mingueza). We won’t be seeing Busi in this fixture, which raises eyebrows for a possible Pjanic start.
Frenkie De Jong has been amazing this year and he and Pedri are most definitely a constant in the midfield. An attack characterised by Messi, Griezmann and Dembele can be the go-to for Koeman, seeing as how that has given results.
While Atletico seems to be the one steadily moving towards winning the La Liga, a Barcelona win at Camp Nou tonight will result in them surpassing Real Madrid (who lost their game against Levante) on goal difference. Athletic have been steadily recovering under their new manager and would want to move away from the 10th position to compete for Europa qualifiers at the least.
Ter Stegen (GK); Mingueza, Araujo, Umtiti, Alba; De Jong, Pjanic, Pedri; Dembele; Messi; Griezmann
FC Barcelona – WDWWW
Athletic Club – WDLWL
This match promises to be exciting and tough, given the opponent. Both teams will be fighting tooth and nail to get those 3 points and Barcelona will be playing with a vengeance. But we have a determined Messi and a budding, creative midfield, hence having confidence in the squad is a must. I predict a 2-1 victory for Barcelona and the 2nd position for our boys!