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Barcelona vs Athletic Bilbao, La Liga: Team News, Match Preview

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The leaders face a very tough match in their road to the title while missing some key players

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Malaga v Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

Barcelona (1st, 72pts) vs Athletic Bilbao (12th, 35pts)


Competition/Round: 2017-18 La Liga, Matchday 29

Barcelona team news: Luis Suárez (suspended), Sergio Busquets, Nélson Semedo, Denis Suarez, Thomas Vermaelen (out, injury)

Athletic Bilbao team news: Iker Muniain (out), Mikel Balenziaga, Mikel Rico, Yeray Álvarez (doubtful)

Date/Time: Sunday, March 18th, 2018, 4.15pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 3.15pm GMT (UK), 11.15am EST, 8.15am PST (USA), 8.45pm IST (India)

Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Referee: Santiago Jaime Latre

How to watch on TV: beIN SPORTS (USA, Canada, Spain), Sky Sports Mix (UK), SuperSport 7 (Nigeria), SONY TEN 2 (India), others

How to stream: beIN SPORTS CONNECT (USA, Canada, Spain), Sky GO (UK), FuboTV (7-day free trial, click here to sign up)


After a fantastic win against Chelsea in the Champions League, Barcelona are back in La Liga action with another home game when Athletic Bilbao visit the Camp Nou on Sunday. Barça remain eight points clear at the top of the table and are getting closer and closer to the title, and this weekend’s test will be a tough one.

Athletic have had a very tough season and are just not the same team they used to be under, you know, Ernesto Valverde! They’re struggling to defend as well as they did under the current Barça manager and they’re not nearly as lethal on the counter as Valverde’s side was.

But they still have a really good squad of Basque players, including Barça’s January target Iñigo Martínez, and their attacking players Iñaki Williams and Aritz Aduriz are still very dangerous. They’ll come to the Camp Nou and be very organized without the ball and look to get a goal on the break.

Barça will have to play this one without Sergio Busquets and Luis Suárez, but they have some guy named Lionel Messi who apparently is quite good at football. So yeah, I like our chances.


POSSIBLE LINEUPS

Barcelona (4-4-2): Ter Stegen; Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Alba; Vidal, Rakitic, Paulinho, Coutinho; Messi, Alcácer

Athletic (4-2-3-1): Kepa; De Marcos, Núñez, Martínez, Balenziaga; San José, Etxebarria; Williams, Raúl García, Susaeta; Aduriz


PREDICTION

Bilbao will put up a pretty good fight as they always do, but Messi is just in the zone right now: 3-0 Barça, Messi hat-trick.