Barcelona will be looking to make a winning start to their 2019-20 La Liga campaign when the champions travel to San Mames to face Athletic Bilbao on Friday night.
La Blaugrana once again proved to be the best team that Spain have to offer last season, while Bilbao ended the campaign in the eighth position – eight points off fourth-placed Valencia.
Athletic Bilbao have no missing personnel and can field a full-strength side on Friday evening encounter but the homes side have ghosts with regards to transfer activity, deciding to neither sell nor purchase any players, though they have lost several individuals after their contracts expired.Lionel Messi is a serious doubt for Barcelona as Argentina international continues to recover from a calf complaint which seen him miss much of the team’s pre-season preparations and his absence looks set to continue as competitive action gets underway.Back-up goalkeeper Neto is the only other squad member unavailable for Ernesto Valverde side through injury, though the manager could face a minor revolt from Philippe Coutinho, who has been pushing for a move away from the Nou Camp all summer.However, La Blaugrana new firepower of Antoine Griezmann and Dutch midfielder Frenkie de Jong could make their La Liga debut at San Mames.
Head To Head
Both league matches between the two teams last season finished level with the points being shared in a 1-1 draw at Camp Nou in September 2018 before a goalless draw at San Mames in February. Barcelona have won on four of their last five trips to Athletic Bilbao in the league, though, and have not lost to the Basque outfit inside their own stadium since December 2013.The homes side, meanwhile, have won just two of their last 13 home La Liga fixtures against Catalans club.
The Catalan giants hammered Italian outfit Napoli 6-1 over the course of two games in early August, Luis Suarez, Ousmane Dembele and Griezmann all getting on the scoresheet in the latter meeting.Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic got the goals versus the Partenopei at the Nou Camp, Barcelona’s brace of wins leaving them with four wins from their pre-season adventures. Chelsea defeated them 2-1 in Japan at the beginning of their preparations, but the Spaniards have since rediscovered some confidence and form.Bilbao have also only lost once over the summer, whilst recording impressive victories over West Ham United and Borussia Monchengladbach. Iker Muniain has been a standout in the side and will be tasked with taking the game to their opponents on Friday.
Athletic Bilbao possible starting lineup:
Herrerin; De Marcos, Alvarez, Martinez, Berchiche; San Jose, D. Garcia; Muniain, R. Garcia, Ibai; Williams.
Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; De Jong, Busquets, Rakitic; Dembele, L Suarez, Griezmann.
Athletic Bilbao 1-2 Barcelona