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Athletic’s much-improved defence takes on a still stuttering Barcelona.
Barcelona have won just two of their last four games and arrive at this fixture in fifth place, already slipping 10 points behind early leaders Atletico Madrid. They can ill afford to allow that gap to grow any further, particularly with Diego Simeone’s men being in such great form. That makes this visit to San Mames even more important, with the home side – who are seven points and four places behind Wednesday’s opponents – undoubtedly eager to inflict yet another defeat on the Catalan giants.
Antoine Griezmann back with a bang?
Having been on the bench for the weekend’s victory over Huesca, Antoine Griezmann is expected to return to the Barcelona starting XI this week.
He has not found the back of the net in over a month, last scoring in the Champions League win against Ferencvaros on December 2 while his most recent La Liga goal came against Osasuna a few days earlier.
However, the 29 year old boasts an excellent record against Athletic Club, notching 8 goals and 5 assists in 20 career appearances against them, and a goal here would be a huge boost for both the France international and Barca.
A low-scoring clash in store?
The recent results between these two teams make for extremely interesting reading. Their last meeting – at Camp Nou in June – saw Barca notch a 1-0 win and each of the last three head-to-head clashes have seen the home side win by that exact score, with Athletic taking the points in the two games before that.
Prior to those three games came two draws (0-0, 1-1) which means that their last five encounters have seen a combined total of just five goals and so another low-scoring 90 minutes could well be in store.
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