Preview - Barcelona vs Athletic Bilbao March18 2018

Started by Harry85, Mar 17, 2018, 07:48 AM

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Mar 17, 2018, 07:48 AM Last Edit: Mar 19, 2018, 05:30 AM by Harry85
Match Day 29
Barcelona vs Athletic Bilbao
Sunday, March 18th, 2018
23:15 pm (GMT+8 Timing)
Stadium: Camp Nou

Last five matches form: W D W W W
Average goals per match: 2.6
Average goals against per match: 0.5
Top Scorer: Lionel Messi (24)

Athletic Bilbao:
Last five matches form: D L L W L
Average goals per match: 1.0
Average goals against per match: 1.1
Top Scorer: Aritz Aduriz ( 8 )

These two sides had markedly contrasting fortunes in Europe in midweek. Whilst Barca will arrive on a high having comfortably dispatched Chelsea in the Champions League, Bilbao will be licking their wounds having crashed out of the Europa League at the hands of Marseille.

A couple of key players out for Barcelona here, with Luis Suarez suspended and Sergio Busquets set to miss out through injury. Iker Muniain continues to struggle for fitness for Bilbao, who otherwise look relatively injury free.

Barcelona haven't been perfect at Camp Nou this season, but they haven't been far off it, winning 11 of 13, with the only blemishes coming in draws against Getafe and Celta Vigo.

Bilbao have looked slightly fatigued of late with the demands of La Liga and the Europa League possibly beginning to take their toll. Heading to the best team in Europe is difficult at the best of times, but on the back of a bad tempered European outing in midweek, this may be all too much for Bilbao.

Suarez will undoubtedly be a miss for the home side but his absence should mean we get another look at the promising youngster Paco Alcacer. Barca may not run up the score without their second top scorer in the line-up but can still be expected to come out comfortably on top. They won the reverse fixture 2-0 and we wouldn't be surprised to see a similar score line here. 

 Prediction: Barcelona 2 - 0 Athletic Bilbao


Half time: 2 - 0
Full time: 2 - 0
Shots: 18 - 10
Shots on target: 9 - 3
Corner Kicks: 6 -5
Possession: 59% - 41%

Samuel Umtiti and Ousmane Dembele were booked for the home side, with the visitors' Raul Garcia and Inigo Lekue also making their way into Jaime Laitre's notebook.

Any thoughts Athletic Bilbao had of keeping this tight for as long as possible were soon undone. Lionel Messi had already fired a warning shot after just three minutes with his free kick being well saved in the top corner by Kepa Arrizabalaga, and the opener came soon after.

Breaking into the right hand side of the box, Messi fed Jordi Alba whose first time cut back was met with a first time finish into the bottom right hand corner by Paco Alcacer.

Barca were rampant in the early stages with a shell-shocked Bilbao side unable to stem the tide. It was so nearly 2-0 after just 13 minutes when an excellent Philippe Coutinho volley found the underside of the crossbar but bounced to safety.

After 30 minutes it was 2-0. Ousmane Dembele picking out Messi dead centre on the edge of the 18-yard box. No surprises about what came next, Messi unleashing a blistering drive into the bottom right corner. Barca struck the woodwork twice more as half-time approached, through Coutinho (again) and Paulinho. 2-0 at the break though.

With a two-goal cushion and the points in the bag, Barcelona seemed to take their foot off the gas in the second half, allowing the visitors to gain more of a foothold in the game. Bilbao didn't ever really threaten to get back into it though, largely being restricted to efforts from range.

With Atletico earlier losing to Villareal, Barcelona stretch their lead at the top of La Liga to 11 points. Bilbao drop to 13th. Out of trouble but also out of European contention.

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