Jan 6, 2021 at 8pm UK
Athletic BilbaoAthletic Bilbao
Williams (3'), Muniain (90')
Vesga (27'), Garcia (70')
FT(HT: 1-2)
Pedri (14'), Messi (38', 62')
Lenglet (57')

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

:Headline: Preview: Athletic Bilbao vs. Barcelona - prediction, team news, lineups: ID:429113: from db_amp
Sports Mole previews Wednesday's La Liga clash between Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Barcelona face Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday evening with the opportunity to move into third position in the La Liga table.

Meanwhile, Athletic head into the contest at the San Mames Stadium with a new manager having replaced Gaizka Garitano with Marcelino.

Match preview

Sitting 10 points adrift of Atletico Madrid having played a game more than the leaders, Ronald Koeman will want to make sure of third spot before thinking about further targets.

Nevertheless, putting together a six-match unbeaten streak has given the Dutchman reasons to be optimistic for the second half of the season.

Performances are far from the level expected at Camp Nou, but Koeman would have taken some satisfaction from the clean sheet recorded during Sunday's 1-0 success at bottom club Huesca.

Despite criticism regarding his attack, Barcelona have the joint-best record in the division, scoring the same amount of times as Real Madrid having played one game fewer.

While there is a vulnerability about the Catalan giants at this stage of their transitional period, it may only take an improvement from Lionel Messi to make a significant difference in the title race.

Although Athletic boss Garitano had been under pressure for a number of weeks, the win over Elche at the weekend felt like a step in the right direction.

However, the decision has been made to replace Garitano with former Valencia manager Marcelino, who has been out of work since September 2019.

The arrival of Marcelino is somewhat of a coup for Athletic after their indifferent form in La Liga, but he will be aware that his reputation will count for little if he cannot help his players find some consistency.

On the plus side, seven points have now been collected from four matches, and the 55-year-old may be arriving at San Mames at the perfect time.

Athletic Bilbao La Liga form: DLWDLW

Barcelona La Liga form: WWDWDW

Team News

Koeman is likely to make a number of changes to his Barcelona XI, including handing a recall to Antoine Griezmann.

Miralem Pjanic should get the nod over Sergio Busquets, while Francisco Trincao is in contention for his first league start of the campaign.

With Marcelino only having a couple of days to work with his new squad, it remains unclear whether alterations will be made to Athletic's strategy for this game.

If a switch is made to 4-4-2, Alex Berenguer and Iker Muniain could line up on opposite flanks, with Inaki Williams operating through the middle.

Athletic Bilbao possible starting lineup:
Simon; Capa, Nunez, Martinez, Berchiche; Berenguer, Vesga, Garcia, Muniain; Williams, Villalibre

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Dest, Araujo, Lenglet, Alba; Pedro, Pjanic, De Jong; Messi, Griezmann, Dembele

We say: Athletic Bilbao 0-2 Barcelona

Despite much of their recent criticism being deserved, Barcelona still head into this contest as the clear favourites. While we do not expect a match that is easy on the eye, the visitors should have enough quality in the final third to claim a hard-fought win.

Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 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.Under 3.5:data

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La Liga Table
1 38268467254286
2 38259467283984
3 38247785384779
4 38245953332077
5 3817111059382162
6 381710115050061
7 3815131060441658
8 381411135557-253
9 38137184765-1846
10 381113144642446
11 381111163748-1144
12 381111163658-2244
13 381013155053-343
14 38914154657-1141
15 38911182843-1538
16 38911183657-2138
17 38812183455-2136
18 38713183453-1934
19 38516173457-2331
20 38612202952-2330
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