With Real Madrid's loss last week, it appears that La Liga is becoming more of a formality than a competition. Yes teams like Atletico Madrid are within striking distance, but does anyone really expect Barca to drop significant points at any juncture?
This week, Athletic Bilbao will attempt to take points on the Blaugrana and try to open the door for the rest of league to get back in the fight.
Barca are fresh off a mid-week cup win in which they rested most of their starters. Dani Alves will miss out with an injury, but Martin Montoya should provide quality coverage at right back. Tito Vilanova could choose to start Javier Mascherano over Carles Puyol as he had an excellent game the last time these two teams met. Tito of course has plenty of options up front. It's really like the kid we all knew in grade school who had every single Lego set, there are just so many options.
Bilbao are stuck in 14th place after a horrible start to the season but a win over Barcelona would be a nice to kick start the season. Marcelo Bielsa has disgruntled striker Fernando Llorente back in the lineup (he even scored in the midweek) and Aritz Aduriz returns from a suspension. Bilbao will likely press Barca high up the pitch, leaving a ton of space for the Catalans to exploit.
If nothing else it should be wide open and entertaining.
Barcelona injuries and suspensions
Athletic Bilbao injuries and suspensions
Out: Carlos Gurpegui (leg). In Doubt: Player 2 (calf).
Sanchez and Barta both have resumed training but are still not ready to return to action. Dani Alves misses out with a hamstring issue, while Adriano is sick and thus doubtful.
Match Date/Time: 9 p.m. local, 3 p.m. ET
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain
TV: beIN Sport 1 (U.S.), Sky Sports 1 (U.K.)