Predicted XI

Griezmann left out again? How Barcelona could line up versus Athletic Bilbao

The Frenchman was frozen out of Barca's weekend victory over Huesca and it could be a repeat in the Basque country

8:25am on Tuesday 5th January 2021
Paul Macdonald

Barcelona could be set to leave Antoine Griezmann out of the starting line-up again as they face a testing trip to the Basque country to face Athletic Bilbao.

Athletic may have parted company with Gaizka Garitano over the weekend, replacing him with former Sevilla, Valencia and Villarreal boss Marcelino, following a bad run.

But Barca's record at San Mames has never been good over the past few seasons. Last season Aritz Aduriz's sensational overhead kick won the game while the year before Barca were held to a tentative 0-0 draw.

But Barca at least have stemmed the tide of losses, though the attacking prowess of their forwards is leaving much to be desired. At the weekend their 1-0 victory over Huesca should have been much more convincing than it was.

But despite losing Philippe Coutinho for the next three months due to a knee injury, as well as Ansu Fati's long-term knee problem that will keep him sidelined until March, Griezmann can't get in the team.

The Frenchman was given the final few minutes of the win over Huesca but the team created enough chances to win the match many times over and just weren't clinical enough.

Ousmane Dembele was guilty of this but he played well overall and with another 90 minutes under his belt it will be of Ronald Koeman's benefit to give him another runout. Lionel Messi and Martin Braithwaite will likely play, too.

Behind him Pedri is moving into undroppable territory and only won't play if Koeman thinks he merits a rest. Frenkie De Jong is getting better with every outing and Miralem Pjanic will likely miss out again to Sergio Busquets.

In defence Gerard Pique is out and so is Samuel Umtiti. Koeman will need to decide to play three at the back versus four, which he has alternated between of late. He played four versus Huesca and may well do the same again.

Barcelona predicted XI v Athletic Bilbao

Barcelona XI v Athletic - Football tactics and formations

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