Barcelona vs Athletic Club match preview: Possible line-ups, team news, match facts, prediction

Date and time: February 27, 9:00 p.m. CET
Location: Camp Nou
Competetion: the league
Arbitrator: Guillermo Cuadra Fernandez

Overview

After a long spell, Barcelona are riding a wave of momentum. The last three weeks have brought fantastic results for the team, with three dominating wins and two draws helping the team go from strength to strength.

The Catalans’ display against Napoli was particularly encouraging in the sense that it ended the European curse associated with them. Xavi’s side netted four goals past the Serie A side in an away fixture, showing the world that the pieces come together for the manager.

Barcelona are level on points with Atletico Madrid at the moment with one game less. Sunday’s game is an opportunity to get closer to third-placed Real Betis and extend their lead over Simeone’s side.

However, the obstacle in their way is Athletic Club, a team that beat Barcelona just over a month ago.

What to expect from Barcelona?

Since his arrival, Xavi’s men management has been impeccable. The Spaniard is a strong proponent of constant rotation, regardless of a player’s importance or form.

Considering the team played three high-intensity matches in less than ten days, some changes in the setup could be expected. The opposition are demanding Xavi start their best possible XI but considering they have to play six games in three weeks, some changes can be expected.

In order to, Marc-Andre ter Stegen will probably keep its place. The German gave away a penalty thanks to an unnecessary challenge at the Diego Maradona Stadium, giving the opponents a slight comeback in the midweek game.

In central defense, Gerard pricks will probably start next Ronald Araujo. The duo put on an error-free midweek sparring display. With the loss to Athletic last month still fresh in their memory, they will be looking to put up a stronger resistance.

Geri-Araujo. (Photo via Getty Images)

Dani Alves returns to action after serving his two-game suspension. The Brazilian has effectively missed Barcelona’s last four games as he wasn’t registered to play in the Europa League. On the left wing, Sergino Dest will in all likelihood complete the defensive line with Jordi Alba suspended.

Sergio Busquets won’t be benched for such a crucial tie and gets the nod in defensive midfield. Frankie de Jong could, however, rest after playing several games in a row. In its place, Nicholas González should start. Pedri had exceptional outings against Napoli and Valencia and will look to build on their success.

Xavi has praised Ferran Torres as the player who impressed him the most during winter signings but will likely be rested tomorrow. He looked tired against Napoli and will be replaced by Gavi on the left wing.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ousmane Dembele will likely complete this lineup overnight, starting center and right respectively.

Predicts Barcelona XI: ter Stegen; Alves, Araujo, Pique, Dest; Pédri, Busquets, Nico; Dembele, Aubameyang, Gavi

What to expect from Athletic Club?

Marcelino’s side are no strangers to momentum itself. So far, the Basque side have won five of their last seven games, their only defeat against Mallorca.

Few changes are expected in the line-up after beating Real Sociedad 4-0. Unai Simon will probably start in goal with a central defensive pair of Daniel Viviane and Inigo Martinez holding the fort.

Keep everything under control. (Photo via Getty Images)

Oscar de Marcos will start at right rear while Youri Berchiche should assume duties on the other side.

The double pivot at night will probably be occupied by a combination of Dani Garcia and Michael Vesga. The latter was injured in the team’s last game but joined the squad for the clash against Barcelona.

Iker Muniain was Athletic’s best player against Sociedad with one goal, one assist and seven assists. It’s also easy to remember the marvelous goal he scored against Barcelona last month to open the scoring on the night. The captain will start as a left midfielder on the night, with Alex Berenguer get the right nod.

In attack, the combination of Inaki Williams and Oihan Sancet should be a thorn in Barcelona’s side. Inaki scored a goal last weekend, while Sancet came off the bench to score a goal and assist.

Predicts Athletic Club XI: Simon; of Marcos, Vivian, Martinez, Berchiche; Berenguer, Garcia, Vesga, Muniain; I.Williams, Sancet

marquee player

Iker Muniain

The main man. (Photo via Getty Images)

Munian has been one of the best players in La Liga this season, with devastating creative numbers. He averaged three chances created per game and had seven assists during the domestic campaign, just behind Karim Benzema and Oscar Trejo.

The Spaniard was deadly against Barcelona in the last encounter between the two sides, scoring the opener in the second minute and then the winner in the 105th minute. He also created five chances in the game while winning five set pieces.

Match Facts

Barcelona previous games: WWDDW

Napoli 2-4 Barcelona | UEFA Europa League
Valencia 1-4 Barcelona | the league
Barcelona 1-1 Napoli | UEFA Europa League
Espanyol 2-2 Barcelona | the league
Barcelona 4-2 Atletico Madrid | the league

Previous Athletic Club Games: WLDWW

athletic club 4-0 Real Sociedad | the league
RCD Mallorca Athletics Club 3-2 | the league
Athletic Club 1-1 Valencia | King’s Cup
athletic club 2-1 Espanyol | the league
athletic club 1-0 Real Madrid | King’s Cup

Head-to-head record

athletic club 3-2 Barcelona | King’s Cup 2021-22
Athletic Club 1-1 Barcelona | La Liga 2021-22
Athletics Club 0-4 Barcelona | King’s Cup Final 2020/21
Barcelona Athletics Club 2-1 | La Liga 2020-21
Barcelona Athletics Club 2-3 | 2021 Spanish Super Cup Final

Key statistics

  • Barcelona haven’t lost in their last six games.
  • Athletic Club have conceded at least one goal in their last seven meetings with the Catalans.
  • Both teams have scored in the last five meetings against each other.
  • Barcelona haven’t kept a clean sheet in their last five matches.
  • Barcelona’s last defeat at Camp Nou against Athletic Club dates back to 2001.

Prediction

Barcelona are now far superior to the side that faced Athletic Club last month in the cup. They are now rejuvenated by new signings and replenished in terms of confidence. In front of goal, Xavi’s men have cracked the code and are clinical in using their chances. Although Bilbao will pose a tough challenge, expect Barcelona to get their revenge.

Barca Universal prediction: Barcelona 3-1 Athletic Club