Barcelona will want to keep their La Liga momentum going when they entertain Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou on Sunday.
Barca are currently two points behind leaders Atletico Madrid, albeit having played a game less, and could find that gap increased to five points before kickoff, as Diego Simeone's men play earlier in the day. Indeed, Real Madrid could go above Barcelona as well with a win over Sporting Gijon, which in turn could pile the pressure on the defending champions going into this difficult game against Athletic Bilbao.
Athletic, who got the better of Barca in the Spanish Super cup earlier this season, while also drawing the champions in the Copa Del Rey quarterfinals, will give Barcelona a stiff test, something Luis Enrique, the manager, is well aware of.
"It will be a game without respite and without concessions," Enrique told reporters. "The two teams know each other well and there won't be an easy ball in the game, they are a complete team.
"I have the first leg from the Spanish Super Cup final as a reference and they stopped us winning six trophies. They are a club that I have admired for years. We have a motivation as they stopped us winning the sixth trophy of the year."
While Barcelona do not have too many injury worries, with only Jeremy Mathieu out, Bilbao have plenty of problems. Their main man up front Aritz Aduriz is suspended for this match, while Raul Garcia and Aymeric Laporte might miss the game as well. Barcelona, who beat Athletic Bilbao in the Copa Del Rey final last season, will want to take advantage of the absentees and start stamping their authority on the La Liga. Goals from Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar will be the target again.
"I'm expecting the same as always [against Athletic Bilbao]," Enrique added. "Zero rest, zero concession and a lot of intensity. It's a difficult game for both teams. The players already know what type of game it's going to be.
"[Ernesto Valverde, the Bilbao manager] has a footballing idea similar to ours, which I like a lot. He's shown a great level both here and abroad. He's passionate coach who loves good football. I'm braced for anything, he's faithful to a style of play but, for example, in the Super Cup he surprised us with individual marking. It's a challenge."
Where to Watch Live
Barcelona vs Athletic Bilbao is scheduled for an 8.30 pm CET (1 am IST, 7.30 pm GMT, 2.30 pm ET) start, with live TV coverage in India on Sony ESPN and Sony ESPN HD. Viewers in India can also watch the match via live streaming online on Sony Liv.
There will be no live coverage of the La Liga match in the UK, while audience in Spain can catch the match live on Canal+ Liga and Movistar Futbol.
Bein Sports and Bein Sports Connect will broadcast the La Liga match between Barcelona and Granada live in the USA, Canada, Australia, the Middle East and North Africa.