Barcelona go in search of their fourth straight win over Athletic Bilbao at the Nou Camp on Sunday. With an eight-point lead at the top of La Liga, victory for Ernesto Valverde’s side would be another giant step towards claiming their third title in four years.
Where and when: Nou Camp – 18 March, kick-off 15:15
Where you can see Barcelona vs. Athletic Bilbao: Sky Sports, William Hill live streaming
Last time: After going behind to a Lionel Messi goal in the first half when the teams met in October, Bilbao stayed in the game for the rest of the contest until Paulinho sealed the win for Barca in injury time.
Barcelona v Athletic Bilbao Predictions and Preview
The odds are stacked heavily against Athletic Bilbao as they face a daunting trip to the Nou Camp to face Barcelona. The two teams come into the game off the back of very different European results in midweek.
Barca put in a clinical display to overcome Chelsea in the second leg of their Champions League last 16 tie, with Messi proving the inspiration for this team once again in the 3-0 victory. Bilbao meanwhile were dumped out of the Europa at their San Mames home, after failing to overturn a 3-1 loss in Marseille.
There’s no surprise that the Blaugrana start as overwhelming favourites in the betting. They’re priced at 1/6, so you’ll need to be creative with your predictions to get more value out of the home side. Ousmane Dembele got off the mark by scoring Barca’s second goal against Chelsea, and he’s 11/8 to score anytime in another win for the hosts.
Athletic are available as long as 28/1, and that looks a fair price considering they haven’t beaten Barca in La Liga since December 2013. You have to go back to 2001 for their last victory at the Nou Camp, so if there’s going to be an upset the draw looks a lot more likely at 8/1.
At least Los Leones won’t have to worry about Luis Suarez in their bid to get a result. The Uruguayan striker is suspended for this game, while Sergio Busquets and Denis Suarez also miss out. For the visitors, Iker Undabarrene and Iker Muniain are both still recovering from cruciate injuries and will sit this one out.
One to watch for Barcelona: It’s difficult to watch anyone else sometimes when Messi is on the pitch. The No.10 is the 23/10 favourite to open the scoring, and 13/5 to bag two or more just like he did on Wednesday night.
One to watch for Athletic Bilbao: Raul Garcia is Bilbao’s top scorer in La Liga this term, and he’s a massive 28/1 to break the deadlock in this one. If you think he can inspire the Basque side to a memorable victory, he’s 33/1 to score in an away win.
Long shot: Barca have won 3-1 twice in the last three meetings at the Nou Camp between the teams, with the other game ending 3-0 to the Blaugrana. The odds on Messi opening the scoring as his side win 3-1 are 28/1, which looks pretty tempting at that price.