Saturday, May 30, 2015

FC Barcelona vs Athletic Bilbao
Competition: Copa del Rey Final
Match date: 30-05- 2015
Kick Off Time: 15:00 BST
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain

FC Barcelona enter the weekend with 1 of their 3 targeted trophies obtained, and victory here would leave them with just the UEFA Champions League Final to clinch a treble-winning season. It has been a fantastic debut campaign for manager Luis Enrique, and while the boss may not get as much credit as he deserves, he will certainly be back next season. However, that could all change if FC Barcelona lose their final 2 matches, and considering the fine form that Athletic Bilbao are in, they would be wise not to look past Los Leones this weekend.
However, FC Barcelona will have their Copa del Ray Final defeat from last season still very much on their minds as Saturday approaches. They last claimed the cup in 2012 and will want to add to a league-best 26 Copa del Ray trophies, and confidence will come from the fact that they have won all 8 of their matches this season in the competition. Furthermore, they have put a lot into the cup having defeated top-flight opponents Elche, Atletico Madrid, and Villarreal, and they should have what it takes against Athletic Bilbao, who the hosts defeated in both meetings this season (2:0, 5:2). While Suarez is an injury doubt and will most likely sit out with an eye towards next weekend’s UEFA Champions League Final, Pedro has smashed in 5 goals in the competition so far and is a perfectly reliable replacement for the Uruguayan.

Athletic Bilbao team was able to salvage a horrendous start to their 2014-2015 campaign and can now put the icing on the cake with some silverware. While that may be a bit out of their reach, Los Leones will still take Europa League qualification no matter the result here, though with 7-straight unbeaten matches entering the weekend, they will be confident. Furthermore, their first trip to the Camp Nou this season saw them nearly stifle the Catalans as they finally conceded late into the 2nd half (lost 0:2), and coming off the back of a 4-0 thumping of Villarreal, a Los Leones title isn’t that farfetched of a proposition.
However, while Bilbao have claimed the 2nd-most Copa del Ray titles in history (23), they have not won one since 1984, and their 2 last visits to the title game have concluded in defeat to FC Barcelona. They lost both La Liga meetings with the Catalans by multiple-goal margins of defeat, and this Saturday’s title clash will unluckily be played at the Camp Nou, where the hosts have built a nearly-impregnable fortress in domestic action. Still, the visitors will be confident and should give Barcelona a test here, especially with Suarez expected to sit out. Unfortunately for Athletic Bilbao and their loyal support, they still must face Messi and a well-rested Catalan defence.

Probable lineups:
Barcelona: ter Stegen - Dani Alves, Mascherano, Pique, Jordi Alba - Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta - Lionel Messi, Suarez, Neymar.
Athletic Bilbao: Herrerin - de Marcos, Etxeita, Laporte, Balenziaga - San Jose, Benat - Williams, M. Rico, Aketxe - Aduriz.

You can watch the match here: Link 1 , Link 2 [Live Scores]

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