Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Barcelona vs Athletic Bilbao Live Stream Copa del Rey Match Preview & Prediction 2017

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Athletic take a 2-1 lead into this 2nd Leg thanks to an excellent display at San Mames last week. Goals from Aduriz and Inaki Williams put them 2-0 up and they briefly had the Catalans on the racks before a brilliant Leo Messi free-kick gave Barcelona a priceless away goal that ensures they head into this match as favourites to progress.

Backing Barcelona to win used to be one of the safest bets in football but the picture has been a bit more complicated this season. Again they needed Messi to provide a moment of magic to rescue a point at Villarreal on Saturday but it sill leaves them with a large amount of ground to make up in La Liga, which only adds to the significance of this game for under-pressure coach Luis Enrique. Messi right now is the only major bright spark for Barcelona and if they are going to turn their season around, you sense he will be the inspiration. He certainly is likely to be the key man on the night and backing Messi to score twice or more could be a decent punt here.

What makes this tie even more intriguing than it might have been is that despite their lead, Athletic really can’t afford to just sit back and try to protect it. A 1-0 home win would see Barcelona through on away goals and given the prospect of Barcelona not scoring in any game is always an extremely slim one, Athletic’s best hope will be if they can find an away goal or two. They do have some tools that can hurt Barcelona as we saw in the 1st Leg, with the pace of Williams one major threat. They also have an aerial advantage in set-piece situations and both teams have scored in 7 of their last 10 matches.

Barcelona’s defending hasn’t been that convincing at times, with their problematic midfield as much a source of that as anything. Even Andres Iniesta made a sloppy pass last week, which led to one of Athletic’s goals and they are making too many mistakes all over the pitch for a team of their quality. They’ve conceded exactly 1 goal per game in La Liga this term and they are up against one of the best forwards in the division here and a team that has genuine reason to chase a goal.

That should lead to a fairly open game and backing both teams to score at 19/20 looks to offer value.

Barcelona vs Athletic Bilbao Head To Head
Athletic’s 2-1 win last week ended a 5 game losing streak for them against the Catalans. They’ve lost on 5 of their last 6 visits to Camp Nou but have scored in 4 of those games.

Barcelona vs Athletic Bilbao Stats
Both teams have scored in 6 of Athletic's last 9 away games. Barcelona have won their last 13 home Copa del Rey matches. Their last two have been 7-0 wins but they did concede at least once in all of the previous 4.

Barcelona Team News
Barcelona's back-up goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen is fit again and could start here. The Catalans now have a fully fit squad to choose from and should name close to their strongest eleven given they trail in the tie. Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Luis Suarez and Gerard Pique all trained this week with the club refusing to let their players travel to the FIFA Awards Gala and all should start this game.

Athletic Bilbao Team News
Midfielders Raúl García and Iturraspe are suspended after seeing red in last week's 1st Leg. Inaki Williams should return to the side after he was left out against Alaves at the weekend.

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