Barcelona kick-start the defence of their La Liga crown with a difficult trip to Athletic Bilbao. The Catalans romped to domestic glory last campaign, finishing 11 points above closest challengers Atletico Madrid and 19 ahead of Real Madrid. Meanwhile, Bilbao missed out on a Europa League berth in agonising fashion due to Espanyol’s superior head-to-head record.
Where and when: San Mamés, Bilbao – 16 August, kick-off 20:00
Where you can see Athletic Bilbao vs. Barcelona: Eleven Sports
Last time: Óscar de Marcos saw red late on as the sides played out a goalless draw in February.
|Our Eurotips||Odds||Free bets||Bookie|
|Ousmane Dembele to score anytime||14/5||Offer|
|Under 1.5 goals||3/1||Offer|
|Barcelona to win 2-1||8/1||Offer|
Athletic Bilbao v Barcelona Predictions and Preview
Athletic go in to the new campaign buoyed by Inaki Williams’ decision to renew with the Basque outfit. The striker was the subject of late interest from Manchester United following the departure of Romelu Lukaku but has put pen to paper on a whopping nine-year deal with Bilbao and will lead the line for the hosts.
The speedster is 10/2 to open proceedings and give Los Leones the perfect start. Williams will be supported by skipper Iker Muniain, who is 10/3 in the anytime scorer market while Raul Garcia is priced at 9/2.
If Bilbao are firing on all cylinders, Muniain and his colleagues are a match for any side in the division, and Barcelona would have almost certainly preferred to face a number of other clubs on the opening day. The home team are 4/1 to emerge triumphant and 14/5 to earn a point.
Visitors Barcelona have enjoyed a fine pre-season despite Messi’s absence. The Argentine is currently recovering from a calf strain and is a doubt for the league curtain raiser.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner is expected to be replaced by Dembélé and the young Frenchman will join Suarez and Griezmann in attack.
Suarez, who is embarking on his sixth campaign in Spain, could conceivably break the 200-goal barrier for the Blaugrana this term and is 7/2 to open the scoring, while new acquisition Griezmann narrowly trails behind at 4/1 in the same market. Barcelona are 8/13 to register victory and 29/20 to net in both halves of action.
One to watch for Athletic Bilbao: Aritz Aduriz has been top scorer in four of the last five season’s for the Basque squad and will be a threat in the closing stages. The imposing hitman is 6/1 to net last.
One to watch for Barcelona: Frenkie de Jong will make his competitive debut for the club and is 13/2 to score anytime.
Long shot: Bilbao only lost three times on home soil last year and have been unbeaten at San Mamés since the middle of November. Los Leones held Barcelona in both league ties and will believe they can take something from the encounter. A 2-2 final score is 14/1.