Revenge will be on the agenda as FC Barcelona meet Athletic Bilbao for a third time in January and just a fortnight after the away side’s shocking 3-2 win in the Spanish Super Cup final.
Camp Nou plays host to arguably one of Barcelona’s most significant games of the season so far. Victory would see the home side leapfrog Real Madrid into second-place in the LaLiga table. While Athletic, who sit 10th in comparison, hope to grab a result in Catalonia to keep their bid for European qualification strong.
Both clubs have been in impressive form recently and are normally evenly matched. Athletic hold a slight edge in terms of a head-to-head record, having won three of the last six meetings compared to Barcelona’s two. Only a single goal tends to be the difference in this fixture.
FC Barcelona Form & Stats
A four-match winning run in LaLiga has put Barcelona back into the thick of the action. Real Madrid, who lost 2-1 to Levante on Saturday, are at their mercy now as second-place in the standings is up for grabs. It’s not the prize anybody really wants, but it’s still a testament to the upturn in results over the last month.
The prospect of leapfrogging Real Madrid and avenging their Spanish Super Cup final loss in one go should leave the Blaugrana all fired-up. And if they stand any chance of closing down that 10-point gap to LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid, a victory over Athletic is a must. Especially as the capital giants still have a game in hand.
Despite beating Athletic 3-2 earlier in January, Ronald Koeman’s men don’t tend to dominate this fixture. They also drew their last two home league games against Eibar and Valencia at the end of December.
Key Team Stats
- Won just 2 of their last 7 games against Athletic across all competitions (W2 D2 L3).
- Unbeaten in their last 17 home games against Basque clubs (W15 D2).
- Only collected 37 points from their first 19 league games – the club’s lowest tally at this stage since 2003/04.
- Lionel Messi has made 25 goal contributions in 26 league games against Athletic (17 goals, 8 assists).
- Antoine Griezmann has made 16 goal contributions in 21 games against Athletic across all competitions (10 goals, 6 assists).
Athletic Bilbao Form & Stats
Marcelino Garcia Toral’s remarkable start to his reign in charge of Athletic knows no end. After a debut loss at the hands of Barcelona, the former Valencia boss has since overseen a five-match winning run. One of those victories, of course, came against the Blaugrana in the Spanish Super Cup final.
The Lions haven’t looked back since that famous win in Seville, winning each of their last three games. But while the 5-1 win over Getafe was certainly brilliant, the other two wins came against lower-tier clubs in the Copa del Rey. So, all in all, it may be a little too soon to judge Marcelino’s full impact yet.
It’s worth noting, though, Athletic have the worst away record in LaLiga. Only one win in nine league games on the road (D3 L5) isn’t a good omen for a daunting trip to Camp Nou against a revitalized and revenge-seeking Barcelona.
Key Team Stats
- Won just 1 of their 9 away league games (D3 L5).
- Drawn 3 of their last 4 away league games (L1).
- Lost 15 of their last 16 visits to Camp Nou (D1).
- Last won at Camp Nou in November 2001.
- Iker Muniain has made 4 goal contributions in his last 3 league games (2 goals, 2 assists).
- Marcelino Garcia Toral has beaten Barcelona twice in 23 attempts as a manager (D6 L15).
Out: Ansu Fati, Gerard Pique, Philippe Coutinho, Sergio Busquets.
Out: Peru Nolaskoain.
Doubts: Ínigo Martinez, Mikel Balenziaga.
(Note: The image will change to the official XI once they’re both announced)
Top Goalscorers in La Liga
Below are some head-to-head stats on each team’s recent form in La Liga.