Bilbao: Moving from their perfect start against Real Sociedad, Barcelona will try to maintain their winning momentum going when they face Athletic Bilbao in a La Liga away encounter on Sunday in San Mames.
Barcelona have already started their post-Lionel Messi era with a 4-2 in the opener at Camp Nou last weekend, and head coach Ronald Koeman will be particularly inspired by the performances his team put up sans the talisman.
For the Leones, ever since Marcelino García took charge of the team, Barçelona defeated them thrice in four meetings alone in 2021 including the Copa del Rey Final. Athletic play very physical and defensive style thus making it difficult for the Catalans to breakthrough.
After their disappointing draw against Elche, Athletic would be looking to redeem themselves and also taking advantage of the home crowd. To make matters worse, Athletic Club might be without Yuri Berchiche, Peru Nolaskoain, Kenan Kodro, Iñigo Córdoba, Alex Petxa and Ander Capa due to injury.
Barcelona aren’t in a good position either. They will also miss the likes of Marc-André ter Stegen, Sergio Agüero, Ansu Fati, Óscar Mingueza, Ousmane Dembélé, Philippe Coutinho, Samuel Umtiti, Ilaix Moriba and Miralem Pjanic.
Athletic were never easy opponents, especially at home and Koeman will have his task cut out. The match could also be an eye-opener for the Dutchman as to what is in store for him for the rest of the season.