Barcelona v Athletic Bilbao Preview, Game Broadcasters

Luis Enrique at Friday’s press conference / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ – FCB

BARCELONA, Spain (Sporting Alert) — Leaders Barcelona will be hoping to continue their winning start to the season when they face Athletic Bilbao at Camp Nou.

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The Spanish giants have won their first two games to start the new La Liga season – thrashing Elche 3-0 before edging Villarreal 1-0 in the second game.

Athletic Bilbao, meanwhile, have three points from their two openers, after bouncing back from a 1-0 defeat at Málaga with a 3-0 victory over Levante at home before the international break.

Manager Ernesto Valverde heads into the contest with a clean bill of health as well, with Athletic Bilbao reporting no injuries.

On the other side, Barcelona does have injury concerns, but can call on a few key players who will make a return.

Midfielder Javier Mascherano returns from suspension and will likely start.

Neymar started the last game for Barcelona on the bench, but the Brazilian could earn a recall to the starting lineup to play alongside the record chasing Lionel Messi and Pedro.

The forward returned fully fit after he captained his national side in two international friendlies and manager Luis Enrique is likely to utilize his star-man from the start this weekend.

Forward Luis Suarez remains ineligible until the El Clasico next month, while defender Thomas Vermaelen and goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen are out injured.

As expected, Barcelona’s possession football will dominate for most of the game, but the visitors will be hoping to hit the leaders on the counter as they seek to upset at the Camp Nou.

Barcelona have won 66-percent of the last six meetings between these two sides, but Enrique remains cautious.

“Everything about Athletic worries me” he said. “They’ve been playing well for several seasons.

“They’re the best team at creating attacking pressure. It’s always very motivational to be able to play Athletic.”

Reporting by WALTER-HOYOS

Walter Hoyos joins SportingAlert as contributor for Spanish football and the Spain national team. I like to travel, one of the favourite things on my list, but I also like to just spend time with family and friends when I am not covering football games. Hope to dump into some of my readers some day.

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