Athletic and Barça, historical duel in search of the goal

The ‘lions’ want to rejoin Europe and the ‘culers’ reinforce their leadership


Athletic Club receives FC Barcelona this Sunday in San Mamés (9:00 p.m.) on matchday 25 of LaLiga Santander, in a duel between historical figures who want to aim high, the ‘lions’ to the European train and the ‘culers’ to continue reinforcing the leadership, but they are recently with a common problem: the lack of goal.

The ‘lions’ have gone four games without winning between LaLiga and the Copa del Rey and in three of those duels he was left without scoring. For their part, the blaugranas also remained practically dry in their last four clashes, between the League, the Cup and the Europa League, from which they are eliminated.

Thus, in a duel that usually comes and goes in ‘La Catedral’, both teams will try to find that easy and light goal that is resisting. If the defenses continue at a good level, as both sides are achieving, it will be key to have offensive success and be as precise as they have not been in the recent past to qualify for victory.

In this sense, the breaking news is contrasting in Athletic and Barça. The people of Bilbao will not be able to count on Oihan Sancet, sent off the previous day against Rayo Vallecano (0-0, in Vallecas), who is their top scorer in LaLiga with 8 goals. And having a goal, in whoever’s boots, will be key to winning and being able to get back on the European train, which is now 4 points behind.

On the other hand, at Barça everything indicates that Robert Lewandowski will return, and with him his 15 goals in this League. A great hope for a Barça that, yes, beat Valencia by the minimum at the Camp Nou, but had just lost in Almería. Even so, the ‘culers’ are leaders with a 9-point margin over Real Madrid, who will play on Saturday and will put pressure on the Catalans, or not.

At Athletic Club, the coach Ernesto Valverde –ex-Barça coach– will also have the loss of Iñigo Lekue and goalkeeper Unai Simón, who will leave their place between the three sticks to Julen Agirrezabala.

But, without a doubt, Sancet is the great absence. In his place, the ‘Txingurri’ could opt for Iker Muniain, due to his experience, talent and courage. And, on the ‘culer’ side, the casualties are also notorious as Ousmane Dembélé and Pedri González continue to be injured.

In addition, in San Mamés, the coach Xavi Hernández will not be able to count on a more than reliable lock at the back such as the Uruguayan central defender Ronald Araújo, suspended after his expulsion against Valencia CF in the victory (1-0) last day at the SpotifyCamp Nou.

However, the return of Robert Lewandowski, the great scorer of this Barça, would be the potion that Xavi would prepare to find the goal again. For now, the Polish forward trained normally on Friday after doing part of the group work this week, leaving behind the strain on the biceps femoris in his left leg that he suffered in the unexpected defeat against Almería.

Lewandowski was one of the four scorers in the 4-0 win in the first round at the Camp Nou. The other goals were from the now injured Dembélé, from a Ferran Torres who is in low hours and highly questioned – missing a penalty against Valencia did not help change this dynamic – and a Sergi Roberto who could play in the midfield.

Athletic has only been able to beat FC Barcelona twice, 1-0 in both cases, in the last ten visits by the Blaugrana in domestic competition. So the ‘lions’ will try to get their claws out and knock down a Barça that, except for a last-minute change, will receive a shower of counterfeit bills from the Bilbao fans as a protest against the ‘Negreira case’.



ATHLETIC CLUB: Agirrezabala; De Marcos, Yeray Álvarez, Iñigo Martínez, Yuri; Dani Garcia, Vesga; Nico Williams, Muniain, Alex Berenguer; and Inaki Williams.

FC BARCELONA: Ter Stegen; Koundé, Christensen, Marcos Alonso, Álex Balde; Busquets, De Jong; Raphinha, Sergi Roberto, Gavi; and Lewandowski.

–REFEREE: Gil Manzano (C. Extremadura).

–STADIUM: San Mamés.

–TIME: 21.00/DAZN.

By Lay

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