Athletic Club vs Barcelona predictions and match preview for Saturday’s LaLiga fixture. Read on for the head-to-head, team news, predicted lineups and fantasy football picks as two of Spanish football’s most famous old clubs meet again.
|Saturday 21st August 2021
|22:00 (local time)
Athletic Club vs Barcelona Preview
The standout fixture this weekend in LaLiga Santander is a repeat of the 2021 Copa del Rey Final. Barcelona were ultimately dominant in Seville but they’ve had their fair share of scraps with Athletic in recent years that haven’t gone their way and this could be a fiercely competitive game in Bilbao.
Sadly, social distancing measures in the Basque Country are among the toughest in Spain which means it won’t be anything like a full San Mames but with some backing at least, Athletic may try to find some kind of an edge. They certainly ought to give Barca a tougher game than what we saw in the Cup Final but the team that started the opening game at Elche doesn’t really have the feel of one that will be a serious match for the big boys across the course of this season.
An uneventful clash ended 0-0 – not a disaster for Athletic but not one that eases the suspicion that they are going to struggle for goals this term. Followers of the Basque giants will be hoping that some of their younger players can enjoy something of a breakthrough season. 21 year old Oihan Sancet and 22 year old Dani Vivian both started the opening game while Nico Williams and Oier Zarraga featured off the bench and it’ll be interesting to watch how those players develop over the coming nine months.
As for Barcelona, they moved on to some degree from the Messi exit debacle with a convincing 4-2 opening day win against Real Sociedad. A brace for Martin Braithwaite and an impressive debut from Memphis Depay helped the Catalans to victory over La Real. However it was Gerard Pique who got the scoring going, fitting given the centre-back accepted a pay cut in the run-up to the game in order to enable the registration of both Depay and Eric Garcia.
Off the pitch, Barcelona’s problems have by no means gone away though. Messi’s departure, while a significant reduction on the club’s wage-bill, doesn’t solve all their financial woes by any means with the latest reports suggesting the financial situation is even worse than previously thought. There’s now a serious possibility that the currently injured Sergio Aguero may not even play for the club at all with a move to the MLS thought to be a priority and there still needs to be departures before the transfer window closes.
Yuri Berchiche and Peru Nolaskoaian continue to miss out for Athletic after recent operations. Ander Capa is also a fitness doubt. Raul Garcia could come into the team up front.
There is little change from a Barcelona team news point of view with Marc-André ter Stegen, Sergio Aguero, Ansu Fati and Ousmane Dembele still sidelined through injury. Few changes are expected from the team that beat Real Sociedad.
Predicted Athletic Club Starting Lineup:
Agirrezabala – Balenziaga, Martinez, Vivian, De Marcos – Muniain, Dani Garcia, Vencedor, Berenguer – Williams, Raul Garcia (4-4-2)
Predicted Barcelona Starting Lineup:
Neto – Alba, Pique, Garcia, Dest – Pedri, Busquets, De Jong – Braithwaite, Depay, Griezmann (4-3-3)
Athletic Club vs Barcelona Predictions
Score Prediction: Athletic Club 1-1 Barcelona
This will be a tough test for this new-look Barcelona and if any of their players wanted to stand up and make a statement of intent in the post-Messi era, a big performance and victory at San Mames would certainly do just that. While rarely scintillating to watch, Marcelino has made this Athletic side tough to beat and you sense the Basques may have enough to take a point from this game.