Athletic Bilbao vs. Barcelona Odds, Picks, Prediction: How to Bet Saturday’s La Liga Match (August 21)
Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images. Pictured: Memphis Depay.
- Barcelona travel to Athletic Bilbao on Saturday for their first road match of the season.
- The visitors are without Lionel Messi now but still managed to score four goals in their opener.
- BJ Cunningham breaks down how they should perform today.
Athletic Bilbao vs. Barcelona Odds
|Athletic Bilbao Odds||+330|
|Over/Under||2.5 (-120 / +105)|
|Day | Time||Saturday | 4 p.m. ET|
|How To Watch||ESPN+|
|Odds updated Saturday via DraftKings.|
Barcelona take their first trip on the road in La Liga without Lionel Messi when they face Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.
Athletic Bilbao have been a mid-table side for many years now, and this season will likely be no different. They started off their campaign last Monday with an incredibly dull 0-0 draw with Elche on the road, so they will need to play much better if they are going to hang with Barcelona.
Barcelona have gone through one of the most tumultuous summers in recent history. Losing not only the best player in the world, but the greatest player in La Liga history due to self-inflicted financial implications is a tough pill to swallow.
On top of that, they have a ton of injuries and can’t even register some of their new signings this summer. They did get a resounding 4-2 win over Real Sociedad on opening weekend, but this Barcelona squad is going to regress without the world’s best player in tow.
Can Athletic Bilbao Increase Scoring Chances?
Last season, Athletic Bilbao’s offense wasn’t up to par with the top teams in the league, averaging 1.13 xG per match. They were also middle-of-the-road in shot-creating actions, touches inside the opponents’ final third and carries into the opponents’ final third, per fbref.com.
They play out of a very defensive 4-4-2 formation, and it can often be hard to create a lot of high-quality chances when defense is your first priority. It will especially be difficult in a match like this, playing against a squad with the attacking talent of Barcelona.
However, Bilbao’s defense was one of the best in La Liga last season, allowing only 1.01 xG per match. That mark was even better at home, allowing only 0.82 xG per match. Also, they have pretty good history against Barcelona, beating them in three of their last eight meetings in all competitions.
Barcelona Still Have Many Scoring Threats
Barcelona are going to have to adapt very quickly to life without Lionel Messi because he was basically their entire offense last season, scoring 37.5 percent of their goals in La Liga.
They have brought in a couple of reinforcements, most notably Memphis Depay from Lyon, who is Messi’s replacement up top in Barcelona’s patented 4-3-3 formation. While he will not replace Messi’s production, he was one of the best players in France last season, scoring 21 goals and dishing out 12 assists.
Now, even though Messi is gone, there is still a load of talent in this Barcelona squad, especially in the midfield where they have two of the best in the world in Frankie De Jong and Pedri. Also, Pique is still the leader of the defense along with the very promising Eric Garcia who came over from Manchester City this summer.
They completely dominated a good Real Sociedad team in their first match, winning 4-2 and out-creating them 3.61 xG to 0.96 xG. Barcelona will still be one of the three best teams in La Liga, but if they want to challenge for the title, they have to take all three points in matches like this against a mid-table foe like Athletic Bilbao.
Betting Analysis & Pick
I do not have much value on the moneyline for either side or over/under for this match, but I do think that there is some value on an exact score prop. Based on my projections, the most likely outcome of this match is a Barcelona 2-1 victory which is currently +850 at DraftKings.
Pick: Exact Score Barcelona 2 – Athletic Bilbao 1 (+850)