Reigning Spanish champions Barcelona will look to extend their five-match La Liga winning streak this Sunday at San Mames, Bilbao, where they'll face off against an upset-minded Athletic Club.
With a win and three points, the Lions can leap into the top four of the league table.
But Gerardo Martino's side will be gunning for a positive result as well after stumbling in Champions League action in Amsterdam on Tuesday. As far as domestic play is concerned, the short-handed Catalan giants began the weekend only three points ahead of second-place Atletico Madrid.
Winning in Bilbao will be no easy task, though, as Ernesto Valverde's squad is one of only three La Liga clubs to have not lost a single match at home this season.
Here we'll get you set with everything you need to know for Sunday's high-stakes clash.
Date: Sunday, December 1, 2013
Start Time: 3 p.m. ET, 8 p.m. GMT
Where: San Mames, Bilbao, Spain
Watch: beIN Sport (U.S.), Sky Sports (U.K.)
Athletic Bilbao: 20.3 percent
Barcelona: 59.5 percent
Draw: 20.3 percent
*Odds according to Bloomberg Sports.
Top Storyline: Dani Alves and Adriano on Schedule to Return
Barcelona's defense could possibly get a huge boost on Sunday if both Dani Alves and Adriano can return to the lineup. The club released a statement on Friday that suggests Martino could potentially insert them into this weekend's showdown at some point, per FCBarcelona.com:
The first team returned to work on Friday after having a day off on Thursday, with the focus now on Sunday’s clash with Athletic Bilbao. Both Alves and Adriano joined the session, even though neither has been declared fully fit.
With both men missing earlier this week, Barca were forced to play Carles Puyol and Martin Montoya in awkward positions out wide in a 2-1 loss at Ajax. Montoya picked up a yellow card late, and Puyol was eventually replaced by Patric after 68 minutes.
If the Brazilian duo of Alves and Adriano is able to make an impact in Bilbao on Sunday, Barca are the clear-cut favorites to prevail.
Bilbao are sure to challenge Barca from start to finish on Sunday. While the defending champions have been by far the better squad to this point, the Lions are unbeaten in seven league matches at San Mames this season.
Plus, Bilbao are only conceding one goal per game at home on average in La Liga play.
While Barca possess the obvious advantage in terms of talent and offensive firepower, Bilbao will be playing with minimal pressure as underdogs.
If Alves and Adriano are able to play at 100 percent on Sunday, Barca will be in great shape. However, seeing as that is still an uncertainty heading into kickoff, watch for one of Spain's most impressive home teams to hold their own against the champions.
Athletic Bilbao 1, Barcelona 1
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