The 2019-20 La Liga campaign gets underway on Friday as reigning champs Barcelona visit Athletic Bilbao to kick off Matchday 1. All spotlight in Spain are these two teams since it’s the only match of the night. Expectations are for Barcelona to win the league once again with the addition of Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong, but Ernesto Valverde’s team will ultimately be judged by how it does in the Champions League. As for Athletic, it finished at a disappointing eighth place last season, missing out on Europa League by just a point. The club went 13-14-11 but needed just another victory to jump Espanyol. 

Here’s how you can watch the match and what to know:

La Liga: Athletic vs. Barcelona

  • Date: Friday, Aug. 16
  • Time: 3 p.m. ET
  • Location: San Mames Stadium — Bilbao, Spain
  • TV channel: beIN Sports
  • Streaming: fuboTV (Try for free)   
  • Odds: Barcelona -0.5 (-155) | Athletic Bilbao +0.5 (+135) | O/U: 2.5

Storylines

Barcelona: Lionel Messi trained apart from the team on Tuesday, leaving his status for the opener up in the air. If he can’t play, the trio in attack will likely be Antoine Griezmann, Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele — a group that has more than enough to get the result on the road without their top superstar. 

Athletic Bilbao: Bilbao just signed their star striker Inaki Williams to an extension through 2028, and that’s a huge boost with so many clubs around Europe keeping tabs on him. With Aritz Aduriz in his final season and having lost more than a step, it will be up to Williams to carry that load in attack. He’ll need to have a great game here for Bilbao to have a chance to win.

Prediction

There’s no reason to force Messi onto the field if he’s not fully healthy. Our guess is he doesn’t play, but Barca still gets the narrow win.

Pick: Barcelona 2, Athletic Bilbao 1



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