Athletic Bilbao vs FC Barcelona (Champions)
Competition/Round: 2019/20 La Liga, Matchday 1
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Lionel Messi, Arthur, Arturo Vidal, Jean-Clair Todibo, Neto, Moussa Wagué (out)
Athletic Outs & Doubts: Gorka Guruzeta (out), Iñigo Martínez, Iñigo Córdoba, Ibai Gómez (doubt)
Date/Time: Friday, August 16, 2019, 9pm CET (Barcelona), 8pm BST/WAT (UK & Nigeria), 3pm ET, 12pm PT (USA), 12.30am IST (India, Saturday)
Venue: San Mamés, Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain
Referee: Carlos Del Cerro Grande
How to watch on TV: beIN SPORTS (USA & Canada), ITV 4 (UK), Not Available (India), SuperSport 7 (Nigeria), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), others
How to stream: beIN SPORTS CONNECT, FuboTV (USA), ITV Hub (UK), Movistar+ (Spain), others
Welcome to La Liga! The new season of the Spanish Championship promises plenty of excitement and a tight title race between the favorites, and Barcelona have the first opportunity to take a positive first step when they open the season away to Athletic Bilbao.
The Blaugrana have been impressive and preseason and the victory against Napoli last week was a fantastic display of the potential of this team and its best players. Even without Lionel Messi who still recovers from injury, the Barça side likely to play at San Mamés has the amazing Frenkie De Jong and a trio of Ousmane Dembélé, Luis Suárez and Antoine Griezmann that can bring fireworks with their pace, skill and scoring ability.
Athletic will prove to be a tough test with a solid side in all aspects and a physical, intense approach that will ask Barça to be at their best. Iñaki Williams is the main man up front looking to prove he’s worthy of a nine-year contract extension, and Iker Muniain is always capable of some sick tekkers and great playmaking.
This won’t be easy, but Barça are more than good enough to not only win but make a statement to the rivals: bring your A-game all season, because we’re younger, we’re hungrier and we’re going for it all. This should be fun.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Roberto, Busquets, De Jong; Dembélé, Suárez, Griezmann
Athletic (4-2-3-1): Simón; De Marcos, Yeray, Martínez, Balenziaga; Unai López, Dani García; Muniain, Raúl García, Yuri; Iñaki Williams
League openers are always tricky and this one won’t be different because of the opponent and the stadium, but Frenkie and DSG will be too much: 3-1 win, strong team performance.