Athletic Bilbao and FC Barcelona are set to meet in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals, this Wednesday, January 20 at the San Mamés Stadium at 20:00.
Barcelona are the favorite to win and advance to the semifinals, listed at 1.11 in the Copa del Rey Betting Odds while Bilbao is at 6.5. Of course, this is anything but a surprise, especially when you take a look at what happened during the weekend.
The Culés destroyed Athletic Bilbao in Spanish La Liga meeting with a 6-0 score. Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez had a hat-trick; Lio Messi, Ivan Rakitic and Neymar added the other three goals.
“We’re used to playing in hostile environments,” Luis Enrique said, all too aware of where they’ll be on Wednesday night. “The game tomorrow is going to be very different than the one Sunday at Camp Nou.”
“No two games are the same,” he added. “We’ve analysed the game and there’s no guarantee that the same thing is going to happen.”
The participation of Lionel Messi might be in danger for this game. The Argentinean playmaker was taken out during the weekend matchup because of a muscular problem.
“We have to wait and see what the tests say, but it was a slight strain, and we preferred not to risk it,” Enrique said. “I don’t like taking risks with any player, so imagine what it’s like with Messi.”
The Copa Del Rey Odds Ath Bilbao v Barcelona for this first leg listed the visiting team as favorites to win at 1.8, with or without Lionel Messi. Bilbao is a clear home dog paying 4.5, and the draw is at 4.5.
According to the Bilbao manager Ernesto Valverde, his team will show another side in this match. The 6-0 defeat was overblown and doesn’t reflect his squad’s real form.
“It’s excessively harsh, even though it’s the rule. Being reduced to 10 men after three minutes is very difficult. It’s a penalty, but it’s excessive”, he explained.
“Before the penalty we had a great chance to score which we didn’t take and then we were up against it. Our only option, with a man down and 90 minutes left, was to try and keep the score tight and see if we could get to the end of the game still with a chance.”
Athletic Bilbao have won their two home games at the Copa Del Rey this season, beating Villarreal (3-2) and Linense (6-0). However, last season they were eliminated by Barcelona, losing 1-3 at home in that series.
Barcelona have played only one game away from home in this season’s Copa del Rey, beating Espanyol 0-2 to advance to this point. They visited San Mames stadium for a Spanish La Liga fixture this season and came up with a 1-0 win.
Despite Bilbao expects a better performance on Wednesday, and things might be closer, Barcelona will win this match without problems. Bet Barcelona to win by two scores.