Barcelona gave a taste of what to expect from this Copa Del Rey quarterfinal tie against Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday, with a clinical performance in front of goal in the La Liga at the weekend. Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar were all on fire as a rampant Barcelona (when are they not, aye) put Athletic Bilbao to the sword in a 6-0 win.
The concern for Barcelona coming out of that game was an injury to Lionel Messi, who seemed to feel his hamstring, leading to the Argentine being substituted at halftime for Arda Turan. However, subsequent tests have shown that there is not much of a problem, with the forward probably in line for to play in this quarterfinal first leg at San Mames.
Luis Enrique did not give much away when asked about Messi's fitness concerning this match on Wednesday, but the manager confirmed again the Ballon d'Or winner was not carrying any injury. "He has some soreness, but there's no injury," the Barcelona manager said during the prematch press conference.
Even without Messi, Barca will be the overwhelming favourites to come smiling out of this tie, but the first leg at Bilbao's home ground might not be as easy as the champions made it look in the La Liga at the Camp Nou, especially with all 22 men on the field.
Athletic Bilbao, who had to play with ten men for pretty much the entire match, will also be smarting from that big loss, and will have a point or two to prove in the first leg in front of their own fans.
"We're used to playing in hostile environments," Enrique added when asked about what he expects from this encounter at San Mames. "The game is going to be very different than the one on Sunday at Camp Nou. No two games are the same.
"We've analysed the game and there's no guarantee that the same thing is going to happen. There are still positive and negative things that we could take away from out analysis. They [Athletic Bilbao] can use the last game as an incentive."
Where to Watch Live
Athletic Bilbao vs Barcelona is scheduled for a 9 pm local time (1.30 am IST, 8 pm GMT, 3 pm ET) start. The Copa Del Rey, unfortunately, match will not be shown live on TV in India.
Bein Sports will provide live coverage of the game in the US, Canada, France, Middle East and North Africa, with the live streaming option on beIN Sports Connect.
Canal+, Abono Futbol and MovistarTV Futbol will broadcast the match live in Spain.
Viewers in the UK, China and Hong Kong can watch the quarterfinal first leg live on La Liga TV Copa.