Athletic Club vs Barcelona predictions and match preview for Thursday’s Copa del Rey clash. Read on for expert analysis, the head-to-head, team news and predicted lineups ahead of this big cup showdown in Bilbao.
|Thursday 20th January 2022
|21:30 (local time)
|Copa del Rey
Athletic Club vs Barcelona Preview
The staggered Copa del Rey 4th Round concludes in Bilbao on Thursday night with what could be a cracking tie between Athletic Club and Barcelona. These sides have had their fair share of cup battles in recent years with Athletic winning a Quarter-Final in 2020 thanks to Inaki Williams’ last gasp winner but Barcelona were emphatic 4-0 victors when the sides met in the Final last year.
That was of course one of two finals the Basque giants lost last April and they will be eager to make amends by going all the way this season. That won’t be easy but they have developed into something of a cup team of late and with a big crowd behind them at San Mames you can never write Athletic off and they will surely fancy their chances here.
Athletic managed to see off Atletico Madrid in the Supercopa Semi-Final last week but were second best in defeat to Real Madrid in the Final. They complete a hat-trick of games against the so-called “big three” here and they ought to carry confidence into the game following 4 wins from 7 in all competitions. It has been a period where youngsters Nico Williams and Oihan Sancet have stepped up and provided some much needed attacking inspiration.
Similar things have been happening in Barcelona this season where partly out of necessity they’ve turned to the youth and a number of academy graduates have stepped up. Their Clasico defeat in Saudi Arabia brought with it plenty of positives and a clearer sense that Barcelona are progressing under Xavi, but also the reality check of a fifth straight Clasico defeat with Fede Valverde’s goal in Extra Time sealing a 3-2 win for the league leaders.
As was the case last term, the Copa del Rey could prove to be Barcelona’s best shot at a trophy but securing a top four finish in LaLiga will be the priority. That’s not to say they will throw in the towel here but Xavi may make a few changes from the Supercopa although they will arguably make the team stronger with Ansu Fati, Memphis Depay and Pedri all potential starters again following their injury struggles.
Head to Head
- Last 6 Competitive Meetings: 4 Barcelona Wins, 1 Athletic Win, 1 Draw.
- The sides drew 1-1 when they met in Bilbao earlier this term.
- Barcelona won the Copa del Rey Final between these clubs last season 4-0.
- They’ve only won on 1 of their last 5 trips to San Mames, a 3-2 success in January of last year.
Unai Nunez, Unai Vencedor, Asier Villalibre and Ander Capa are the current injury concerns for Athletic. Nico Williams may get a start after impressing off the bench in recent games.
Memphis, Ansu Fati and Pedri were only deemed fit enough for involvement off the bench last week in Saudi Arabia but could feature from the off here. Luuk de Jong has been in form in front of goal though and may keep his place for now.
Athletic Club vs Barcelona Predictions
Score Prediction: Athletic Club 1-1 Barcelona (Barcelona to Win on Penalties)
This game could go the distance and at the very least it’s a tie which should make for intriguing viewing. Athletic are always competitive on home turf and will provide a real test for the Catalans but Barceona are making progress and have some key men getting back to fitness now. It wouldn’t be a big surprise if we needed penalties to settle this.
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