Barcelona vs. Athletic Bilbao: Team News, Preview, Live Stream, TV Info

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistFebruary 3, 2017

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 26:  Lionel Messi of Barcelona celebrates scoring his team's second goal with his teammate Neymar JR during the Copa del Rey quarter-final second leg match between FC Barcelona and Real Sociedad at Camp Nou on January 26, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Barcelona slipped four points back from La Liga leaders Real Madrid last time out as they could only draw 1-1 with Real Betis.

They will need to bounce back quickly when they host Athletic Bilbao on Saturday as, with Real not facing Celta Vigo until Sunday, Barca can move to within a point of the top if they claim a victory.

Athletic go into the clash at the Camp Nou having not lost in the league for five matches, and they beat Barca 2-1 in the Copa del Rey last month—the Blaugrana won the return leg 3-1 at home.

Read on for a full preview of the clash, along with the latest team news and viewing information. 

Date: Saturday, Feb. 4

Time: 3:15 p.m. GMT/10:15 a.m. ET

TV Info: beIN Sports (U.S.)

Live Stream: beIN Sports Connect (U.S.)

Team News

Andres Iniesta recently provided a positive update on his recovery from a calf injury, and he is hopeful of rejoining training by the end of the week, per Sport.

However, the clash with Bilbao is sure to come too soon for Iniesta to return, while Sergio Busquets remains on the sidelines with an ankle problem, per Sport.

Predicted Barcelona XI: Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Aleix Vidal, Gerard Pique, Jeremy Mathieu, Lucas Digne; Denis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Arda Turan; Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar

Predicted Athletic Bilbao XI: Gorka iraizoz; Oscar de Marcos, Eneko Boveda, Aymeric Laporte, Mikel Balenziaga; Benat Etxebarria, Mikel San Jose; Iker Muniain, Raul Garcia, Inigo Lekue; Aritz Aduriz 

Preview

As well as being four points clear of Barca at the top of the table, Real also have a game in hand over the Catalan giants.

Luis Enrique's side cannot afford to drop any further behind Los Blancos or they may leave themselves too much to do as they attempt to defend their La Liga title.

Barca's 1-1 draw with Betis was somewhat unfortunate given that they had a legitimate goal disallowed, per the Daily Telegraph's Mark Hughes:

However, it was arguably a fair result given the balance of play, and Barca will need to up their game if they are to beat Bilbao.

Athletic are seventh in La Liga having enjoyed an unbeaten start to 2017 in the Spanish top flight.

In Inaki Williams and Aritz Aduriz, they have the attacking quality to exploit Barca's back line—both scored early in the cup defeat of the Catalans last month.

Meanwhile, manager Ernesto Valverde has built a fairly solid defensive unit—Bilbao's 11 conceded goals away from home in the league this season is bettered by only Real, Atletico Madrid, Villarreal and Alaves.

If they play to their best, and Neymar, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez link up well, Barca should get the three points they desperately need.

However, Athletic have the quality to frustrate Barca at the Camp Nou, and the hosts will be eager to get an early goal to force their opponents to be more adventurous in attack.

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