Athletic Bilbao vs Barcelona Prediction: Visitors to battle for away win

 | March 02 | 

7 mins read

mack sochon la liga tips

The long end to the La Liga season continues for Barcelona with a very tricky looking match this Sunday night. The game will be broadcast live in the UK on ViaPlay 1 and kicks-off at 20:00.

Our Spanish Football expert Mark Sochon is here with his Athletic Bilbao vs Barcelona Predictions as he takes us through the encounter with his full match preview...

Athletic Bilbao vs Barcelona Betting Tips:

  • Second Half Result - Barcelona @ 13/8
  • Barcelona to win & Both Teams to Score @ 3/1

Barcelona visit San Mames for the second time in 2024, hoping for a better result than their last visit when they were defeated 4-2 in Extra Time in the Copa del Rey Quarter Finals.

That was one of the games of the season in Spain with Iñaki Williams coming off the bench to score the decisive third goal for Athletic, having made a twelve-hour trip back to Bilbao only the day before following Ghana’s surprise AFCON elimination.

Iñaki also scored one of the goals of the season on Thursday night, brilliantly volleying home a cross from brother Nico as the Basques made a flying start to their Semi Final 2nd Leg against Atlético Madrid. They went on to win that game 3-0 to secure a convincing 4-0 aggregate victory over Diego Simeone’s side and set up a Final against Mallorca that they’ll be firm favourites to win.

San Mames was in party mode on Thursday night and it has been an absolute fortress for Ernesto Valverde’s team this season. Athletic have won ten home games in a row if you include the Extra Time victory over Barca in the cup and they’ve not lost in Bilbao since the opening day of the season when Real Madrid were the visitors.

It’s sure to be as loud and hostile as ever for Sunday’s game, but Barcelona are in better shape now than when they visited in January. This time around, it’s Athletic who may be feeling the fatigue of a busy schedule and who will be without some important players whereas Barca have free midweeks either side of a game they really need to win if they want to stay in the hunt for the title.

Barcelona put in one of their best performances of the season last time out. Xavi opted to rest youngsters Pedri and Lamine Yamal who have played a huge amount of football so far in 2024 and instead recalled Raphinha and João Félix to the eleven following their recent injury issues.

The duo were both on target in a 4-0 win over Getafe, Barcelona’s biggest win since September with Andreas Christensen again operating in the problem defensive midfield role.

It is now four wins and a draw from Barca’s last five games in La Liga. They haven’t all been sparkling performances but there have certainly been some encouraging signs since Xavi announced his decision to step down in the summer and the goals have continued to flow with Robert Lewandowski enjoying a purple patch up front.

Punters will need to weigh up the merits of Athletic’s brilliant home record but patchy overall form, against Barca’s unbeaten away record in La Liga this term. Xavi’s side have won all four away league fixtures since the turn of the year, despite conceding in all of them.

They can take a bit of inspiration from a 4-2 win at Betis in January when they ended the Seville club’s unbeaten home league record with a strong performance. Victory in Bilbao would top that and may even rank as Barcelona’s best result of a difficult season.

Team News:

Ernesto Valverde may consider light changes after the exertions of Thursday night’s Copa del Rey Semi Final and he’ll be forced into at least two with Dani Vivian and Nico Williams suspended.

The absence of Nico, who scored and assisted against Atlético Madrid, is a major blow and means Barca won’t have to deal with the best brother act in football right now. Athletic also have a doubt over left back Yuri Berchiche while former Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera is injured, although he’s rarely a starter in any case.

As for the visitors, there are fewer injuries for Xavi to worry about now but he’ll still be without Alejandro Balde, Gavi, Marcos Alonso and Ferran Torres for this game.

There’ll be a few selection dilemmas for the Barca boss after Felix and Raphinha both performed well against Getafe last time out. In a tough fixture, he may look for the security of an extra midfielder which should see Pedri return in Felix’s place while Lamine Yamal will be hoping his good recent form is enough to see him come back in on the right flank.

Athletic Bilbao vs Barcelona Odds:

There’s not much to separate the teams in the Match Result market, with Athletic Club priced at 9/5 to win the game while you can back Barcelona at 7/5. The Draw is on offer at 5/2.

There have been plenty of goals in Athletic home games and Barca away games this season. You can back Over 2.5 Goals at 4/6 here, a winning bet in 77% of league matches at San Mames this term. Meanwhile, Over 3.5 Goals is on offer at 13/8 with Both Teams to Score priced at 8/15.

Robert Lewandowski leads the way in the Goalscorers markets. The Polish striker is 4/1 to score first and 13/10 to score anytime. Athletic’s biggest goal threats are likely to be striker Gorka Guruzeta who is 2/1 to score anytime and winger Iñaki Williams who is available at 21/10 to score anytime.

There are also a number of nice options using the #PickYourPunt builder if you see this game producing goals. You can back Either team to win and Over 2.5 Goals at 10/11 while Barcelona to score Over 1.5 Goals and Barcelona Over 4.5 Corners is priced at 3/1.

Bet 1 - Second Half Result - Barcelona @ 13/8

There’s potential for this match to follow the opposite path of the recent cup meeting when Athletic ultimately took advantage of a tiring Barcelona side that had extensive selection issues to seal victory. This time around, it’s the home team who are likely to be feeling the fatigue and it’s going to be a really big ask for them to produce two big home performances against strong opposition in the space of four days.

That’s particularly true given their style of play which is very high intensity and dependent on them pressing from the front. They should still have enough gas in the tank to make this a tricky game for Barca, but we could see the visitors enjoy greater control the longer it goes on.

I’m backing Second Half Result - Barcelona at 13/8 and there are strong stats to back that up with the Catalans scoring 71% of their league goals this term after the break while Athletic have tended to be more of a First Half team with 65% of the goals they’ve conceded coming in the Second Half.

Bet 2 - Barcelona & Both Teams to Score @ 3/1

Even with the influential Nico Williams missing, Athletic should have enough firepower to get on the scoresheet at some point in this game with one or two doubts still over this Barcelona defence.

However, there has been plenty to like about Barca’s build-up and attacking play in recent weeks and there are clearly goals in the team with Felix and Raphinha fresh from morale boosting strikes last time out while Lamine Yamal and Robert Lewandowski have both been in good form.

That will ensure Xavi has strong options to bring off the bench if he needs to change something and I’m backing Barcelona and Both Teams to Score at 3/1, a winning bet in all four of the Catalan club’s away league games so far in 2024.

You can check out Mark's La Liga Betting Tips along with those from the rest of the Betfred Insights Spanish Football writers on our La Liga home page...

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