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Apr 17, 2021 at 8.30pm UK
Athletic BilbaoAthletic Bilbao

Garcia (39'), Berchiche (90')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Griezmann (60'), de Jong (63'), Messi (68', 72')

Preview: Athletic Bilbao vs. Barcelona - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Athletic Bilbao vs. Barcelona - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Copa del Rey clash between Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

The two most successful teams in the history of the Copa del Rey will meet in the final of the 2021 competition on Saturday evening as Athletic Bilbao take on Barcelona.

Athletic, who lost the 2020 final to Real Sociedad earlier this month, have won this competition on 23 occasions, while Barca have lifted the famous trophy 30 times throughout their history.

Match preview

Athletic played the final of the 2019-20 Copa del Rey earlier this month, with the fixture rearranged from last year due to the coronavirus outbreak; Mikel Oyarzabal's second-half penalty ultimately decided the contest, but Marcelino's team will have another chance to win the trophy this weekend.

The Basque outfit are the second-most successful side in the history of the Copa del Rey, having won the competition on 23 occasions. Athletic last faced Barca in the 2014-15 final, suffering a 3-1 loss at Camp Nou, while they also took on the Catalan outfit in the final of the 2011-12 and 2008-09 tournament.

Marcelino's side have had a relatively straightforward route to this year's final, but they did need extra time to overcome Levante in the semi-finals, with the second leg taking place at the start of March.

Athletic are without a victory in their last six matches in all competitions, including draws in each of their last four La Liga matches, last sharing the points at home to Alaves on April 10.

Los Leones are currently 11th in Spain's top flight but will certainly have their eyes on a top-10 finish as they are level on points with Celta Vigo directly above them.

Barca, meanwhile, are 30-time winners of the Copa del Rey, with their last success coming in 2017-18; Ronald Koeman's side were knocked out of the Champions League by Paris Saint-Germain last month, but they are still fighting for two trophies, which would represent a strong season.

The Catalan outfit will enter this match off the back of a 2-1 defeat at Real Madrid last weekend, which has left them in third position in the table, two points behind leaders Atletico Madrid; the title race in La Liga is fascinating, and it is threatening to go right to the wire with three teams in the mix.

Barca overcame Cornella, Rayo Vallecano and Granada in this season's Copa del Rey to reach the semi-finals, where they faced a tough examination by Sevilla.

Koeman's side suffered a 2-0 defeat to Sevilla in the first leg of their last-four contest at the start of February but recorded a 3-0 victory in the second leg to advance to the final once again.

Blaugrana have already beaten Athletic twice in La Liga this season, but they suffered a 3-2 loss to the Basque outfit when the two sides locked horns in the semi-finals of the Spanish Super Cup in January.

Athletic Bilbao Copa del Rey form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • L

Athletic Bilbao form (all competitions):
  • L
  • D
  • D
  • L
  • D
  • D

Barcelona Copa del Rey form:
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W

Barcelona form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L

Team News

Athletic will be without the services of Peru Nolaskoain, Yuri Berchiche, Yeray Alvarez and Oier Zarraga this weekend through injury.

Inigo Lekue is likely to feature at left-back, while Iker Muniain, Raul Garcia and Inaki Williams should all feature in the final third of the field for the Basque outfit.

Head coach Marcelino has plenty of midfield options, with Unai Lopez and Mikel Vesga pushing for starts, but Dani Garcia and Unai Vencedor should ultimately get the nod.

As for Barca, Philippe Coutinho and Ansu Fati remain on the sidelines with knee injuries, while Neto is still unavailable for selection due to an ankle problem.

Koeman is expected to make changes from the side that started El Clasico, with Gerard Pique in line for a start, having recovered from injury, while Antoine Griezmann could also be back in the side.

Oscar Mingueza and Ronald Araujo could both drop out of the back three, with Frenkie de Jong dropping back from midfield, but Sergi Roberto is again expected to start on the bench.

Athletic Bilbao possible starting lineup:
Simon; De Marcos, Nunez, Martinez, Lekue; Berenguer, Vencedor, D Garcia, Muniain; R Garcia, Williams

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; De Jong, Pique, Lenglet; Dest, Busquets, Pedri, Alba; Griezmann, Messi, Dembele

We say: Athletic Bilbao 1-2 Barcelona

Barca will be the favourites to triumph on Saturday, but Athletic cannot be discounted due to their quality and previous success in this competition; we are expecting it to be a very tight match in Seville but believe that Barca's extra quality will just shine through to win the trophy for the 31st time.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:data

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