30th May, 2015; 20-30 GMT
Camp Nou, Barcelona
Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona face each other in the Spanish Copa Del Rey final at the Camp Nou, with the Blaugrana hoping to keep their treble hopes alive, having already won the La Liga.
For Athletic Bilbao, this will be a chance for them to end their trophy drought, their last silverware being a league and cup double in the 1983-84 season. Since then, Bilbao have come close many times to end the drought, but not have been successful. If they win the final, it will be their 25 Copa Del Rey win. Bilbao finished runners up in the cup during the 2008/09 and 2011/12 campaigns, both times unable to defeat Barcelona at the final hurdle, but would want to finish the job this time and deny Barcelona the chance of ending the season with another treble.
Barcelona will, however, have set their sights on winning the treble, especially after winning the league by 2 points over rivals Real Madrid. They are yet to face Juventus in the Champions League final but will not take the cup game any less seriously than they would the game against the Italians in a weeka s time. Manager Luis Enrique will ensure that everyone is primed towards winning the match without any hiccups, and will not be underestimating Bilbao, despite having beaten them in the same finals twice in the last 8 years.
Team News and Tactics
Athletic Bilbao are going through a tough time in terms of their squad, with manager Ernesto Valverde having a reduced squad to choose from, with 3 injuries and a suspension. Ander Iturrapse, Iker Munian and Jonas Ramalho are all out injured, while Oscar De Marcos is suspended for this game.
As a result, Valverde will have to depend on Andoni Iraola on the right, and hope that he will be able to nullify the pace and threat of Neymar. The manager will set up the team in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Ager Aketxe likely to continue in midfield based on his recent good form. Aduriz will continue to lead the line, and will be hoping to continue his excellent form and cause problems to the Barcelona defence.
Expected Line up: Herrerin; Balenziaga, Laporte, Etxeita, Iraola; Jose, Benat; Williams, Aketxe, Rico; Aduriz.
For Barcelona, there are no such injury or suspension worries for its players, with even Luis Suarez back in training and expected to start the game tonight. The likelihood of Luis Enrique springing a surprise in terms of team selection is very minimal, with der Stegen starting in goal and the rest of the team picking itself.
Thomas Vermaelen came through his debut game for the club without any problems but he definitely wouldna t be starting in such an important game, with Pique and Mathieu continuing their good partnership in the centre of defence. While the attacking 3 are obvious, the midfield will consist of Iniesta, Busquets and Rakitic.
Expected Line up: Stegen; Alba, Mathieu, Pique, Alves; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Neymar, Messi, Suarez.
- Athletic Bilbao have not won at the Camp Nou since 2001.
- Aritz Aduriz has scored 10 goals in his last 11 games.
- Barcelona are unbeaten in 23 of their last 24 games in all competitions against Athletic Bilbao.
Both teams will be hungry to win the trophy, albeit for different reasons. However, Barcelonaa s superior quality will likely come through and continue their dominance over Bilbao.
Predicted Score: Athletic Bilbao 1-3 Barcelona