Athletic v Barcelona – Betting Preview
Athletic Club Summary
Athletic Bilbao’s inconsistency continues after they failed to get the win against Rayo Vallecano last weekend, dropping two points in a goalless draw.
On the positive, however, they seemed to have emerged from a slump in form with back-to-back wins in early February.
They remain in contention for the European places and although a win is not expected here, they will aim to get the points, but settle for a draw considering it is Barcelona they face.
Only a victory would likely prevent them from losing further ground on 4th which remains a distant target.
Athletic have mixed team news for the visit of Barcelona.
The only positive is that Centre back Yeray Álvarez returns from a suspension and starts.
Ernesto Valverde is dealing with one new absence as Oihan Sancet is suspended for the game after his red against Rayo last time out.
They will use Inaki Williams through the middle for this match, a position he can play but normally is preferred down the flanks.
Unai Simón, Jon Morcillo, Íñigo Lekue, and Ander Herrera remain sidelined by injury.
Barcelona added two points to their lead over bitter rivals Real Madrid thanks to last weekend’s respective outcomes, although the 1-0 win over Valencia was far from convincing for Xavi’s side.
Barcelona’s spirits and confidence have been much stronger than they are now. This due to being kicked out of all UEFA competitions so early this season; the United loss still causes them pain and they cannot repair that pride easily not being in Europe.
However, domestically everything looks rosy with a big gap at the top of the La Liga 2022/23 table and close to assuring a Copa del Rey final spot.
With Real Madrid winning their game on Saturday lunchtime, only a win for Barcelona will please them.
A draw from this contest, one of their toughest remaining, is not a disaster. However, a loss would feel like one.
Barcelona has some important absences but starting with one very notable positive, Lewandowski will return from a knock having trained normally since Friday. He is set to begin at San Mames which is a big attacking boost.
The offensive plans will take another level up with playmaker Gavi back too having served a suspension for their narrow win over Valencia,
Xavi does however remain without Dembele and Pedri, but the sizeable defence loss of Araujo will be a concern, in particular for this contest.
As illustrated in the graph below, Araujo’s aerial and overall defensive impact is huge. The aerial duel (95% won) power is going to be potentially sorely missed for this battle of a game.
Looking at the 1×2 market first. Athletic is a tough test for Barcelona and one of the toughest remaining games between them and the league title. Barcelona to win is @ 2.25. the draw is @ 3.35 and the Bilbao win is @ 3.40.
Moving onto the Asian handicap betting for this contest. Barcelona is giving away a small -0.25 @ 1.90 start. They will go for the win but also not lose sleep should they settle for the point, so the draw could be the value.
Athletic would also be content to draw the match but they will not overly fear Barcelona. Athletic +0.25 is @ 1.96. Pass on this.
Looking at The Under/Over goal betting last of all. The line is set fairly low at 2.25 but it makes sense as Barcelona is not the open expansive side of years gone by this season.
There is an angle on the over here. The rock (Araujo) in the Barcelona defence is out and so they are far more prone to concede here. This will be a high tempo and probably exciting match. Goals would not surprise and so a preference on over @ 1.90. Under is @ 1.93.