Barcelona didn’t have problems to win the title last season as Atletico Madrid, and Real Madrid didn’t pose a real threat, but the situation could change this time around. The Blaugrana is traveling to the Basque Country to take on Bilbao who are expected to fight for European places this season after missing out in 2018-19. The match between Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona will take place at Estadio San Mamés on August 16th, 2019.
Athletic Bilbao vs. Barcelona
Three-Way: 1: Athletic Bilbao +400; X: +275 Draw; 2: Barcelona -139 at BetDSI Sportsbook
Spread +1: Athletic Bilbao -149; Barcelona +114
Total 2.5 goals: Over -125; Under +100
This will be the third time in five seasons that Athletic Bilbao open their LaLiga home campaign against Barcelona. The previous two occasions were feisty affairs, averaging 7.5 yellow cards, with the hosts losing 1-0 both times.
However, Bilbao will be confident, regardless, after ending 2018/19 in a great home form (W4, D1). They averaged exactly 3.0 goals per match across their last three LaLiga home wins, netting over half (five) of their nine goals within those victories inside the opening half-hour.
Gaizka Garitano will be without Gorka Guruzeta (knee) and Ibai (calf) while Inigo Martinez (illness) and Inigo Cordoba (thigh) are listed as doubtful to face Barcelona on Friday.
- Raúl García was at the double in Bilbao’s last LaLiga home game, scoring the brace inside two minutes within the 16th-30th minute period
- Bilbao’s last five home league games against the top-three of 2018/19 have all produced under 2.5 goals (W1, D3, L1)
Even a strong start for the hosts is no guarantee of a shock though, as Barcelona lost just one of the six LaLiga away games where they conceded first last season (W2, D3, L1). Within that group of games, four (W1, D3) saw Barcelona equalize with the next match goal, and do so in the same half that produced the opening goal.
All of the draws within that sequence also saw one half produce no goals. On the topic of clean sheets, ten of Barcelona’s last 12 league visits here (W6, D5, L1), including all six victories, have seen them shut out the opposition in the first half.
Ernesto Valverde cannot count on goalkeeper Neto, who is recovering from a broken hand while Lionel Messi is questionable with a calf injury.
- Three of Barcelona’s last four LaLiga away wins have seen Luis Suárez net in the 60th minute or beyond
- Since November 2014, Barcelona have lost only one LaLiga away game after scoring first
Barcelona won seven of the previous ten H2H encounters (D2, L1), but both games in 2018-19 ended without a winner while Blaugrana was victorious in four of the past six meetings at San Mames. Bilbao didn’t suffer a home loss in LaLiga since October 2018, and the visitors will face a stern test in this one. Barcelona managed to beat Bilbao by two or more goals in only one of the last seven visits to San Mames, and that’s why I am backing the hosts to cover the +1 spread.
MY PICK: AH +1 Bilbao (-149)
ADDITIONAL PICK: I don’t think we’re going to see a bunch of goals here, especially in the opening half. Namely, just one of the last 12 top-flight H2Hs held here has seen both teams score before half-time. However, Bilbao failed to score at home only once in 2019, and it was against Barcelona. I am backing them to score this time around, and I am going with BTTS.
MY PICK: BTTS YES (-133)