Welcome back to TalkBarca. Our topic for today’s article is the Match Preview of Athletic Bilbao vs Barcelona in Quarter Final of Copa Del Rey Tournament. We are up against a really difficult side of Athletic Bilbao who have troubled us in the past. This is obviously a must-win game for us. This year’s Copa Del Rey games only consist of one leg which means there is no second chance. This has made our jobs even tougher. Especially when we go to play against teams away from home similar to this one. However, we must keep our heads up, and look forward to playing our best football.
This is also another huge task on the shoulders of Quique Setien. He is currently doing really well as the manager of FC Barcelona. He still needs to do a lot more if we want to avail the results that we want this season. Athletic Bilbao is always a tough team to face for us especially in a crucial knockout stage. Hence, it is confirmed that they are going to go all out on us. This is exactly the time where we need to show composure and seniority as a club. We need to show everyone that Barcelona can sustain pressure successfully.
We need to be mentally strong because our rivals Real Madrid are having one hell of a season. Meanwhile, we are going through a lot of ups and downs. Barca is already trailing in the La Liga race. Now we are against one of the toughest sides of the Copa Del Rey Tournament. Real Madrid are considered to easily ease through the Semi-Finals, whereas our qualification is in big doubt. We have a very thing squad with injuries to some of our crucial first-team players. Dembele has been injured again and he is expected to be out for longer than a season. So, without further ado, let’s start our Match Preview of Athletic Bilbao vs Barcelona
ATHLETIC BILBAO VS FC BARCELONA MATCH PREVIEW
Before I continue with the expected lineup, I would like to address an issue that recently took place and has caused a lot of drama on social media. Lionel Messi had a little argument with the club board. They simply confessed that they were not happy about how things are being held at the club from the management, and Messi even spoke against Abidal. This gave rise to a lot of rumors and it was immediately reported that clubs such as Man City, and Bayern Munich has made bids for Lionel Messi.
I would like to make clear that everything seems to be fine now and Quique Setien did make everything vivid to everyone that there was no tension in between the players. He told the media that the training session took place after that incident, and every player participated positively. We also saw some pictures on the social media in which we saw Messi and other players smiling, and simply having a good time. A lot of fans also posted on social media about how desperately do we need to see Messi retiring in a Barcelona shirt. Therefore, everything is clear.
I would also like to specifically give major credit to Quique Setien. He has kept the players together despite a slight tension. I think he has been a success for us so far. Like I said in my previous articles, it is too quick to judge him. He has shown positivity in the press conferences as well. He certainly looks to really getting well in the Catalonia system. We need to show him the support and tell him that we trust in whatever he is thinking for the club. Anyway, let’s take a look at the kick off time for the game.
Kick Off Time:
Athletic Bilbao vs Barcelona will kick off at 09:00 PM as per local time in Spain from the San Mamés Stadium. You can check the kick off timings for your respective region in the following image:
Setien has issued a list of 18 players to travel to San Mamés for the Copa Del Rey Quarter Final. These players are:
- Goalkeepers: Ter Stegen and Inaki Pena.
- Defenders: Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba, Umtiti, Firpo, and Araujo.
- Midfielders: Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur, Roberto, De Jong, Vidal, and Riqui Puig.
- Forwards: Messi, Griezmann, Collado, and Ansu Fati.
Marc Andre Ter Stegen is obviously going to start in goal, and there is simply not much to talk about him. Ter Stegen is in the form of his life. He stops penalties, he saves one on ones, and he punches away World-Class screamer shots. What else do we need in our goalkeeper? Ter Stegen is simply one of the best things that happened to FC Barcelona in the past few years and we cannot be thankful enough for the gem we have in our goal.
However, Ter Stegen does need a lot of support from his teammates because goalkeeping is a vulnerable position and there are times when a keeper cannot do much by himself. This is where he needs the support of his defenders, and speaking of defenders, let’s see what options we have there.
I expect Quique to go with 4 defenders in this game. This is because it’s a really sensitive encounter and playing 3 defenders can be a little risky for us. We also know that dominating the ball only does not guarantee wins when you travel away from home. We saw this against Valencia where we dominated the opposition but Valencia went on to score 2 goals against us putting us behind Real Madrid in the points table. Therefore, we have to make sure that we do not make a slip here.
I expect Jordi Alba to start on the Left Back position. Semedo has obviously found his way to start on the right-hand side. Gerrard Pique missed the last training session due to fever but he is still expected to start this game at the Centre Back position alongside Clement Lenglet. Samuel Umtiti cannot play this game because he has to attend a legal matter.
Our midfield obviously needs to be really on point if we want to dominate the opposition. I would also repeat that this game is all about scoring goals and not just keeping possession. Therefore, we need a midfield that not only has the ability to keep the ball but is also direct and can penetrate through the defense really often.
I expect Sergio Busquests to start as the CDM because he can simply run the midfield all by himself. He has the ability to hold the ball and make crucial passes. He is going to be the pivot of our midfield in Athletic Bilbao vs Barcelona game. Another pivotal player expected to start this game is Frenkie De Jong and alongside I would like to see Arturo Vidal. Vidal can bring in that sense of aggression and pace in the game. He can dribble players and he also makes deeper runs which allows him to be in goal scoring positions really often. Therefore, I would want to see this midfield trio starting. We are going to have Arthur Melo on the bench who can come in later on if needed.
Dembele is out again, as we mentioned above. Luis Suarez is also on a season-long injury. This means that Ansu Fati is going to start the game on the Left Wing. Antoine Griezmann is expected to be at the position where he likes in the Centre Forward role. Meanwhile, Messi is obviously going to be counted as the Right Winger despite the fact that he is going to play his natural game in deeper and central areas.
We saw great chemistry between Ansu Fati and Lionel Messi in our previous fixture. I hope that we keep on watching the same kind of positivity in our entire squad. We still need Griezmann to click on the number 9 position and this is the best time for him to show everyone that he needs to be used in this favorable position even when Luis Suarez returns.
This is a really tough game for us, and predicting a score is a really difficult task. Therefore, I am not going to come up with any expected score. All I want from my team is to go away and deliver a great performance to qualify into the Semifinals. That’s it! Anyway, this is it for the Match Preview of Athletic Bilbao vs Barcelona. I hope you like our Match Preview. What are your thoughts on this fixture? Let us know in the comments section. Until the next time, Visca El Barca!