Barcelona are expected to turn around their Copa del Rey deficit against Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday and maintain their hopes of lifting the trophy for a third consecutive season.
Watch and bet on live streaming of Barcelona vs Athletic Bilbao from 20:15 GMT on Wednesday January 11 at bet365 > Live Streaming
Our best bet for this match: Barcelona to win and over 3.5 goals in the match at 21/20 with BetStars
The most frequent winners of the Copa del Rey in the competition’s history with 28 successes, Barcelona have lifted the trophy four times in the last eight years including 2015-16 when the final against Sevilla went to extra time at the Vicente Calderon Stadium before they won 2-0.
But their chances of enhancing that impressive record further are in a degree of jeopardy after a 2-1 defeat in the first leg of this round-of-16 tie at the Estadio San Mames last week, Athletic Club holding out for a commendable victory even after being reduced to nine men.
Aritz Aduriz and Inaki Williams had put Athletic Club, as they like to be known, 2-0 ahead in the space of four first-half minutes before Lionel Messi pulled a goal back. Then in the final 16 minutes, Raul Garcia and Ander Iturraspe were both sent off for second bookable offences, yet Barcelona could still not draw level on the night.
Barcelona players celebrate a goal in front of Athletic Bilbao supporters (Getty Images)
Garcia and Iturraspe will both be suspended for this second leg and will be equally missed for different reasons, the former because he has scored nine goals this season and the latter due to being a combative midfielder whose presence would have been very handy in defending the lead.
Therefore, we have to think Luis Enrique’s side will overturn the aggregate scoreline despite failing to return to winning ways at the weekend when held 1-1 away to Villarreal, even then needing a last-gasp Messi goal to avoid a second straight loss.
The Basque side are proving much more effective at home this season than they are away, with only two teams having scored fewer goals on the road in La Liga than the seven in eight games notched up by Bilbao.
In terms of qualification, it’s more about how many goals Ernesto Valverde’s men concede than the number they score, but we think Barcelona will have the motivation to break them down and bag at least the two they need to keep their defence of this trophy on track.
Barcelona to win and over 3.5 goals in the match @ 21/20 with BetStars
Neymar first goalscorer @ 37/10 with 888sport