Preview and Prediction
Two teams which have won the most Copa del Rey title are about to square off this midweek. Bilbao has just appointed the new manager, Marcelino Toral after sacking Gaizka Garitano without any clear purpose. They are now sitting on the ninth with 21 points while Barcelona is on the fifth with seven points more. A maximum point is needed to climb higher in the standings.
Both teams’ previous games
Inaki Williams and Co was able to secure a narrow win over Elche last weekend. A single winning goal by Iker Muniain made the difference in the tight fixture. That was their last match under Gaizka Garitano, who were promoted from the reserve team on December 2018.
Meanwhile, Blaugrana sealed another important away win against Huesca on the road. The only goal of the game was scored by Frankie de Jong who tucked it away taking advantage of Messi’s cross. It was their second away victory this season.
Marcelino Toral has always been in favour of 4-4-2, including in his last game, the Copa del Rey final 2019 against Barcelona. The frontman duo is likely to be given to Inaki Williams and Asier Villalibre while Alex Berenguer and Iker Muniain will be playing out wide. Raul Garcia and Mikel Vesga would be operating in the middle of midfield. Only two names are ruled out for this fixture, Yeray Alvarez and Unai Lopez.
His counterpart, Ronald Koeman might consider opting for 3-4-2-1 again against the more pragmatic Bilbao. Antoine Griezmann or Ousmane Dembele will be featuring the targetman role while Messi and Pedri are operating behind him. At the backline, Samuel Umtiti could get a nod to accompany Ronald Araujo and Clement Lenglet. There are four players in their injury table at the moment, Ansu Fati, Gerard Pique, Sergi Roberto and the latest one, Phillipe Coutinho.
Players to watch
The former Torino man, Alex Belenguer has been their new key figure this season. The versatile midfielder has scored two goals and provided one assist. Some other notable names to watch are Inaki Williams with three goals and two assists and the top assist provider, the left back Yuri Berchiche with three assists so far.
In Barcelona, Messi is still the top performer with seven goals and two assists in La Liga so far. Another key man to focus on is probably the Dutch midfielder, Frankie de Jong who has registered two goals and provided one assist.
Athletic Bilbao vs Barcelona Prediction
The arrival of Marcelino could bring more winning spirit for the home side due to his experience handling difficult games. This is what Koeman’s men need to be careful with and the Dutch boss is obliged to come up with plan B if Messi is closed down. Yet, Bilbao’s forwards are still lacking of clinical finish. Thus, a draw seems a fair result here.
The punters seem to be taking side of the Catalan side. Messi and Co are backed to win at 7/8, whereas Bilbao’s odds to win are at 62/17. The draw result is at the value of at 29/10.