Athletic Bilbao vs Barcelona: Match Odds, Betting Tips & Predictions

Martin Green

Wednesday, August 14, 2019 8:40 AM UTC

Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019 8:40 AM UTC

Barcelona could be without Messi...
<div><h2>Athletic Bilbao vs Barcelona</h2><p><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><strong>Friday, August 16, at San Mamés</strong></a></p><p>La Liga champions Barcelona get the new season underway when they travel to the Basque Country to take on Athletic Bilbao. These teams drew twice when they met last season, suggesting they are evenly matched. However, Barcelona won their previous nine meetings and they have not lost to Bilbao since 2013. They are superior in every department, they have a much larger budget for transfers and they will expect to leave San Mamés with all three points on Friday night.</p><h2>Team News</h2><p>Barcelona’s biggest move so far this summer saw them snap up World Cup winner Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid after activating his €120 million release clause. They already had a €70 million deal in place to sign Frenkie de Jong from Ajax and his arrival should significantly bolster their midfield. Elsewhere, goalkeeper Neto has joined from Valencia, while new full-backs Junior Firpo and Marc Cucurella have arrived. They have spent around €250 million this summer, but they have recouped at least €140 million by selling players like Malcom and Jasper Cillessen. Rumour has it they are bidding to bring Neymar back to the club from PSG, and they might throw Philippe Coutinho into the deal, but nothing has materialised just yet.</p><p><a href=";a=9feaaf7a-d7a2-4185-974a-81ad171951df&amp;f=3" target="_blank"><img alt src="" style="width:100%" /></a></p><p>Barca’s biggest concern for this game is the fitness of star player Lionel Messi, who banged in 34 goals in 36 league games last and carried his team at times. He suffered a calf injury in training this week and he is a major doubt, meaning Barca could go with a front three of Griezmann, Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele. Despite Messi’s absence, that looks pretty formidable. All three were on target in a recent friendly win over Roma and appeared to have good chemistry. Barca’s ageing midfield let them down against Liverpool in the Champions League last season, and de Jong should add plenty of vigour in the middle of the park.</p><p>It has been a pretty quiet summer for Athletic Bilbao, much to the delight of their fans. The club had to sell Kepa Arizabalaga and Aymeric Laporte to Premier League clubs Chelsea and Man City respectively last year after huge offers came in. Athletic Bilbao have a policy of only signing players from the Basque region, so they were unable to reinvest that cash in big players, due to a dearth in quality in the area. Big clubs were circling forward Inaki Williams this summer and fans must have feared the worst, but the club have now tied him down to a nine-year deal.</p><p>They have not spent a penny this summer, so it will be the same team that struggled in the first half of 2018/19 and then rallied to finish eighth. Barcelona should be able to secure a narrow victory in this game.</p><p><strong>Tip: <a href=";a=acd6b93a-905e-45af-90ef-7eb1df661829&amp;f=1" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="Coral">Barcelona to win at 1.70 (7/10); or Barcelona and under 4.5 goals at 2.10 (11/10) with Coral</a></strong></p></div>
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