FC Barcelona (5th, 42pts) vs Athletic Bilbao (8th, 37pts)*
*Points and positions at the time of writing on Saturday
Competition/Round: 2021-22 La Liga, Matchday 26
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Ansu Fati, Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto, Samuel Umtiti, Alejandro Balde (out)
Athletic Outs & Doubts: Nico Williams, Álex Berenguer (out), Yeray Álvarez (doubt)
Date/Time: Sunday, February 27, 2022, 9pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 8pm GMT (UK), 3pm ET, 12pm PT (USA), 1.30am IST (India, Monday)
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Referee: Guillermo Cuadra Fernández
VAR: José Luis González González
How to watch on TV: Not Available (USA, Canada), LaLigaTV (UK), SuperSport (Nigeria), MTV (India), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), others
How to watch online: ESPN+ (USA), LaLigaTV (UK), others
Following a sensational win over Napoli to book a place in the Europa League Round of 16, Barcelona return to action this weekend when they welcome historical rivals Athletic Bilbao to the Greatest Stadium on Earth for some Sunday Night Fútbol.
Barça’s win in Italy on Thursday was the least exciting part of that night in Naples. It was the Blaugrana’s performance that truly caught the eye, with goals scored in all kinds of ways, great pressing and dominant midfield play. It’s the type of football Barça fans are used to seeing, and it was on full display on the road against one of the best teams in Europe.
That win was the latest in what has been a very successful February for the Catalan giants. This really was a season-defining month because of the number of big matches against high-quality opponents, and apart from the local derby against Espanyol it is safe to say Barça have passed the February test with flying red and blue colors so far.
But there is one more big game left in February against the always brutal Athletic Bilbao. Marcelino García Toral’s side eliminated Barça from the Copa del Rey last month and have been in fantastic form since, knocking out Real Madrid from the Cup and absolutely destroying Real Sociedad in the Basque Derby last week.
Athletic know exactly how to make it tough for Barça, but they haven’t been successful at Camp Nou in a long time which will make Los Leones even hungrier to get a result on Sunday. Barça’s form has been stellar but one bad game can undo all the great work, and Xavi’s men can’t afford any slip-ups in the Top 4 race.
Barça have at least one game in hand over all the teams around them in the Champions League hunt, so they truly control their destiny and will be in excellent position with a win on Sunday. It’s about replicating the level of performance from the last few games, creating and taking good chances and being patient against one of the toughest defenses in the country. This should be good.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Alves, Piqué, Araujo, Dest; F. De Jong, Busquets, Pedri; Adama, Aubameyang, Ferran
Athletic (4-4-2): Simón; De Marcos, Yeray, Martínez, Yuri B.; Zarraga, Vesga, García, Muniain; Williams, Sancet
It’s Athletic and they’re never fun to play against, but Barça are much better against them at home and I’m confident the team will carry the momentum from the last three games and continue to control their destiny in the league: 3-1 to the good guys.