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Tuesday, August 20

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How Barcelona could line up against Bilbao

:Headline: How Barcelona could line up against Bilbao:ID:368098: from db_amp
Sports Mole looks at how Barcelona could line up in Friday night's La Liga opener against Athletic Bilbao.
By , European Football Editor | 5d

Barcelona will begin the defence of their La Liga crown with a trip to Athletic Bilbao on Friday night.

Ernesto Valverde's side finished 11 points clear of Atletico Madrid at the top of the table last season, and the Catalan giants are once again expected to be the team to beat during the 2019-20 campaign.

Barca have won four of their five pre-season games this summer - including an impressive 4-0 victory over Napoli last time out, where Luis Suarez, Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann were all on the scoresheet.

It is a tough start against a dangerous Bilbao outfit, although the Basque side have not overcome Barca in a home La Liga match since 2013, which is an indication of the size of their task on Friday night.

Here, Sports Mole looks at how Barca could line up at San Mames.



Out: Neto (wrist)
Doubtful: Lionel Messi (calf)

Lionel Messi has not officially been ruled out of the match by Valverde, but it seems incredibly unlikely that the attacker will take part due to a calf injury. The 32-year-old has not been involved in Barca's pre-season preparations after turning out for Argentina in the Copa America during the summer.

Messi's expected absence could see Dembele and Griezmann join Luis Suarez in the final third of the field, with all three impressing against Napoli last time out.

The back four and goalkeeper largely picks itself with Clement Lenglet now very much Gerard Pique's preferred partner, and therefore perhaps the most interesting aspect of the team selection will come in midfield.

Summer arrival Frenkie de Jong is widely being tipped to start alongside Sergio Busquets, with Sergi Roberto's energy potentially seeing the Spaniard get the nod ahead of the likes of Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal. Arthur is another option for the middle of the park, meanwhile.

Barca's only other confirmed absentee is second-choice goalkeeper Neto, who has broken a bone in his wrist and now faces a period on the sidelines.

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