Barcelona v Athletic Bilbao: 3 things that could shape La Liga game

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Barcelona take on an Athletic Bilbao side who managed to stop them from winning a second sextuple.

Only the poorest of performances at the new San Mames Stadium earlier in the campaign stood between them and six trophies in a calendar year again.

To that end, we can be assured that the Catalans will want to realign the status quo.


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That win for Los Leones was only their third in the last 36 meetings between the sides, stretching back to 2002.

With things still very tight at the top, Barca need a victory to keep them in amongst the top positions in the division.

Let's take a look at three things that could shape the outcome of this one...

Current form

Despite a pretty horrific start to the season, Spanish Cup result aside, Athletic Club have flourished under Ernesto Valverde's expert tutelage.

Their current form is amongst the best in the division, having only lost three games in all competitions since early October.

Camp Nou is however one of those grounds where Athletic Club always tend to struggle.

No wins this century at Barca's cathedral home is history that the Rojiblancos would prefer to not be reminded about.

After having failed to beat the Catalans twice since their cup victory, the mental edge is very definitely back in Barca's court, but Valverde can at least call upon their recent run of form as a positive to use in his motivational pre-match talk.

In the same time frame, Barca have remained unbeaten so Valverde and his side need to pull out all of the stops to spring a surprise.

34 years young

Everyone continues to talk about Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Gareth Bale et al.

Hardly anyone mentions the name of Aritz Aduriz in dispatches.

34-years-young, here is an old school centre forward who is enjoying a career renaissance in the new world order.

A hat-trick against Barca earlier in the season is a particular highlight and the target man continues to delight despite his passing years.

Expert in the air, Enrique and his players are likely to be well aware of Valverde's game plan before the game even kicks off.

Messi's favourite

Athletic Club remain one of Messi's favourite victims.

The diminutive Argentine has managed to score 14 times in his career against them already and buoyed by another Ballon d'Or victory - his fifth - who's to say that he won't add to such an incredible tally.

Even if he's unable to find the score sheet himself, there's some certainty to him being able to assist one of his colleagues.

Can Messi add to his 14-goal tally against Athletic Bilbao? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!

Athletic Bilbao
La Liga
Lionel Messi
Luis Suarez

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