Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 2/3
Looking to punch their Copa del Rey semi-final ticket on Wednesday night, Barcelona will travel to San Mames when they meet Athletic Bilbao.
Starting with the hosts, watching their domestic romp come to an abrupt end over the weekend, Athletic Bilbao will certainly be seeking an immediate response here. Eventually falling to a 1-0 loss at the hands of Valencia, Ernesto Valverde’s men will be excited to make a return to San Mames on Wednesday night. Currently leading the chase to snatch a famous Champions League ticket in 2024, the Lions have continued to gain a fearsome reputation for their success on home soil. Last seen in Basque Country claiming a routine 2-0 victory against Alaves, the one-time Barcelona boss has seen his squad win all of their previous six showdowns in front of their own supporters – a run that stems all the way back to a 2-2 stalemate against Valencia on October 29th. Suffering just a single domestic defeat across any competition since the middle of October, Bilbao will be desperate to make a major Copa del Rey statement on Wednesday night.
Away with Ghana at this month’s Africa Cup of Nations, Athletic Bilbao will be without Inaki Williams on Wednesday night. Likewise, both dealing with respective injury issues, Valverde will be unable to call upon the duo of Oscar de Marcos and Dani Garcia here.
Although Gorka Guruzeta might have failed to find the net in any of his previous four domestic appearances, the 27-year-old should spearhead Bilbao’s charge in midweek. Former Manchester United star Ander Herrera should once again be partnered with academy graduate Benat Prados Diaz at the heart of Valverde’s midfield.
As for the visitors, while Barcelona might have suffered major Super Cup heartbreak at the hands of Real Madrid on January 14th, Xavi’s side have come roaring back in an eye-catching fashion. Putting in an action-packed performance over the weekend as they eventually clinched a 4-2 victory away at Real Bets, the defending champions have won five of their previous six appearances across all competitions. Mounting a Copa del Rey comeback away at third-tier outfit Unionistas last week as they claimed a 3-1 win, Wednesday’s guests will also be excited by a stellar record against Bilbao. Landing a 1-0 victory when they welcomed the Lions to Catalonia for a La Liga showdown on October 22nd, Barca have won all of their previous four meetings by an aggregate score of 10-0. It should also be highlighted, Xavi’s men have won four of their last five contests away from the Nou Camp – a run that stems back to a 3-2 Champions League defeat against Antwerp on December 13th.
Dealing with what is a stacked injury list in Catalonia, Barcelona will once again be without the likes of Joao Cancelo, Marcos Alonso, Inigo Martinez, Raphina and Spanish superstar Gavi here. However, Xavi’s side are hopeful that former Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen could feature.
Bagging a stellar hat-trick against Real Betis on Sunday and receiving a string of plaudits, former Manchester City star Ferran Torres will keep his spot in Xavi’s starting XI. Ex-Bayern Munich record-breaker Robert Lewandowski could be handed a Copa del Rey rest on Wednesday night.
Key Factors to Consider
- Barcelona have won all of their previous four showdowns against Athletic Bilbao by an aggregate score of 10-0.
- However, the Lions have won all of their previous six straight appearances at San Mames.
- Likewise, Bilbao have scored 15 strikes in those six consecutive showdowns on home soil.
- Barcelona have won four of their previous five contests away from the Nou Camp.
- All of Barca’s last eight away fixtures have finished with both teams finding the net.
While Athletic Bilbao might have lost all of their last four showdowns against Barcelona by an aggregate score of 10-0, the Lions will certainly be hugely excited by their continued purple patch on home soil. Winning all of their previous six contests at San Mames and notching 15 strikes, neutrals could be treated to a thrilling Copa del Rey contest on Wednesday night. It should be highlighted, with Barcelona seeing all of their last eight matchups away from the Nou Camp finish with both teams finding the net, we are predicting a similar outcome in midweek.
Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 2/3