Basques Bilbao invade Barcelona for Copa del Rey final showdown
Basque club Athletic Bilbao will be aiming to thwart Spanish champions Barcelona’s attempts to clinch a historic treble this season when both teams collide in the Copa del Rey final at the Nou Camp.
Contesting Luis Enrique’s Blaugrana on their home turf will be a tough task for Bilbao, having been thrashed 5-2 by the La Liga champions last February in a league meeting, but the San Mames outfit did manage to overcome their opposition narrowly last season with a 1-0 home triumph.
The Nou Camp visitors are 9/1 with Coral to come away with a Copa del Rey victory in 90 minutes, while Barcelona are 4/1 to win by four or more goals in normal time, as their ferocious forward line continues to score at will.
Treble hunting Barcelona wrapped up a superb La Liga victory before this Copa clash and, also have a Champions League final against Juventus to look forward to, but midfielder turned defender Javier Mascherano claims his teammates aren’t already gazing ahead to their European outing.
“Athletic is an excellent team and will make it very complicated,” stated the Argentine.
“Maintaining the culture of Athletic in global football makes them a special club. It’s very interesting that, despite the limitations, they continue to be so competitive.
“They deserve all my gratitude for maintaining the philosophy beyond results.”
The home side booked their place in the final with a 6-2 aggregate mauling of Villarreal, while Bilbao have been able to pick off teams more narrowly, securing their Nou Camp appearance with a 3-1 triumph against Espanyol over two legs.
Barca’s sensational South American attacking trio of Neymar, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez has been terrorising defences all season long, and are sure to be firing on all cylinders again on home soil in the final.
Argentine genius Messi is 5/2 to strike two or more goals in 90 minutes, while his in-form teammate and Samba star Neymar is 5/1 to do the same. Suarez was confirmed to be full fit again by Enrique and he is 4/1 to open proceedings.
For Bilbao, 34-year-old Spaniard Aritz Aduriz has been key to their cup run, proving he still has a killer instinct towards the latter stages of his career. The former Valencia marksman has slotted home an incredible 34 times in all competitions this term and is 4/1 to add to that in normal time.
Known as the Lions, Bilbao will need to show great courage and conjure Basque brilliance in order to topple their free-scoring and treble-hunting opponents, but have the firepower capable of causing a stunning upset.