Barcelona are preparing to visit Athletic Bilbao in the quarter-final of the Copa del Rey.
The Blaugrana are settling into life under new manager Quique Setién and currently find themselves second in La Liga just three points behind the leaders. Meanwhile, Athletic haven’t won in their last seven league games and are currently down in ninth.
The pressure is mounting on head coach Gaizka Garitano, but he has found joy in the Copa del Rey. Athletic have made it into the quarter-finals after two penalty shootout victories over Elche and Tenerife. Read on for our Athletic Bilbao vs. Barcelona preview, predictions, team news, TV coverage information and live stream options.
Athletic Bilbao vs. Barcelona key details, TV info & live streaming:
Competition: Copa del Rey
Venue: San Mamés, Bilbao
Date: Thursday, 6 February 2020
Kick-off: 8:00 PM (UK time)
TV coverage (UK): Bet365* are streaming this match live for account holders. Those without a Bet365 account already who are interested in streaming Athletic Bilbao vs. Barcelona live can take advantage of this service by following the simple steps below.
- Click on this link.
- ‘Join now’ and enter details.
- Log in and fund the new account.
- Pick the desired event from among the ‘live now’ or ‘schedule’ sections in Bet365’s ‘live streaming’ category.
*Geo restrictions apply, 18+ only, must have a funded account, BeGambleAware.
Last five meetings: Athletic Bilbao vs. Barcelona
16 August 2019: Athletic Club 1-0 Barcelona (La Liga)
10 February 2019: Athletic Club 0-0 Barcelona (La Liga)
29 September 2018: Barcelona 1-1 Athletic Club (La Liga)
18 March 2018: Barcelona 2-0 Athletic Club (La Liga)
28 October 2017: Athletic Club 0-2 Barcelona (La Liga)
Aggregate Score: Athletic Bilbao (WDDLL) 2-5 Barcelona (LDDWW)
Ones to watch
Athletic Bilbao: Aritz Aduriz
Father Time is the one opponent no sportsman has been able to beat, but Aduriz gave it a better go than most. The Basque striker had a remarkable career renaissance since joining Athletic for a third spell as a 31-year-old. He has scored a ridiculous 172 goals in 400 games across all competitions, but the last season-and-a-half has yielded just seven of that total.
In fact after opening 2019/20 with a blockbuster overhead kick on the opening day, he hasn’t scored since. Yes, Aduriz’s substitute role has seen him cut a frustrated figure. However, he scored that overhead kick at the San Mamés against… Barcelona. So watch out for him to potentially make a decisive contribution as a late supersub.
Key stat: Aritz Aduriz has a better shot conversion rate (25%) this season than in any of his previous campaigns, scoring once from four shots.
Barcelona: Leo Messi
Who else? The best player in the world has been going on as ridiculously as ever. Despite missing pre-season and a month of the season through injury, and then having to play his way to fitness in competitive games, Messi is still dominating everyone.
But this week saw Messi break one of his rules: he involved himself in a public row with another individual employed by Barcelona. Sporting director Eric Abidal, his former teammate, suggested players were not working hard under previous manager Ernesto Valverde during a recent interview, and so Messi posted a rebuttal on Instagram that read: “I honestly do not like to do this kind of thing but I think that everyone has to be responsible for their job and take responsibility for their decisions.“Players for what happens on the field, we are also the first to acknowledge when we don’t play well.
“Those in charge of sporting direction should also face up to their responsibilities and above all take charge of their own decisions.
“Lastly, I think that when you talk about players, you should give names because otherwise you are tainting everyone’s name and feeding rumours that spread and are not true.”
This may end badly for Abidal, who has been reportedly summoned by Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu to discuss his future. At the back of Bartomeu’s mind will be the fact Messi has a clause in his contract giving him the option to leave the club for free this summer.
In any case, even now as Messi plays through the pain and internal politics, he manages to shine. Expect him to be decisive against Athletic.
Key stat: Leo Messi has more goals (14) and assists (8) than any other player in La Liga so far this season.
Athletic’s usual cup keeper Iago Herrerin is suspended following his red card against Tenerife, so regular shot-stopper Unai Simon will be in goal as the Blaugrana come to town. Oscar de Marcos is also a long-term injury absence but besides that Athletic have everyone available for this key clash.
— Athletic Club (@AthleticClub) February 6, 2020
Confirmed XI: Simon; Capa, Yeray, Nunez, Martinez, Berchiche; D Garcia, Vesga, R Garcia, Muniain; Williams.
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The Blaugrana find their already small squad hit hard by injuries in key areas. Back-up goalkeeper Neto is injured, and he is joined by long-term attacking absentees Luis Suárez and Ousmane Dembélé; neither man is expected to play again until perhaps the very end of the season.
Our starting 1️⃣1️⃣ for tonight’s Copa del Rey KO match versus @Athletic_en!
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 6, 2020
Confirmed XI: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, De Jong, Roberto, Fati, Messi.
Athletic have been in abysmal form lately with penalty shoot-out wins over lower league sides their only respite over the last few weeks. Barcelona meanwhile are steadily improving under Quique Setién and with Leo Messi and Ansu Fati finding their form in front of goal, you’d expect them to have far too much for their hosts in attack.