Barely one month into the new year, Barcelona will face Athletic Club for the third time in 2021 when Los Leones make the trip to the Camp Nou in Week 21 of La Liga. Sunday’s clash comes two weeks after Athletic beat 10-man Barca 3-2 in extra time to lift the 2021 Spanish Super Cup, a high point in Marcelino Garcia Toral’s superb start to life leading the former:
What TV Channel is Barcelona-Athletic on?
Recent rivals Barcelona and Athletic resume their head-to-head on Sunday, available to watch via beIN Sports from 3 p.m. ET. You can live stream La Liga matches on fuboTV.
How to Watch Barcelona vs. Athletic Club
When: Sunday, January 31
Where: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain
Time: 3 p.m. ET
TV: beIN Sports
Live Stream: fuboTV (watch for free)
Athletic lost at home to Barcelona by the same scoreline when Marcelino made his managerial debut at San Mames on January 6, and the reverse fixture presents an even tougher task. The Basque outfit have won five in a row since that defeat (including the extra-time Super Cup victory), but Ronald Koeman’s side will have all the motivation they need to get revenge.
It was Lionel Messi sent off in the dying stages of that Super Cup slump, but Barca’s talisman is back available in La Liga after serving his suspension. The same can’t be said for Sergio Busquets, who misses out having earned his fifth caution of the campaign during Barca’s 2-0 win at Elche last weekend.
Like Athletic, Barcelona have also embarked on an unbeaten streak since their Super Cup clash, although results still aren’t of the glamorous nature coach Ronald Koeman might desire.
The Blaugrana required extra time to defeat third-division Cornellà in the Copa del Rey’s round of 32, then came from a goal down to beat second-tier Rayo Vallecano late on in the last 16.
Despite the less-than-perfect results, however, the coach and fans alike have been pleased to see Frenkie de Jong making a greater impact in attack for the club. Koeman told reporters his Dutch countryman is “more complete now” than when he left Ajax in 2019, and his numbers so far this year illustrate why:
One hallmark of Marcelino’s Athletic is that their attack is now hitting its potential, although the club is yet to keep a clean sheet after six matches with him at the helm.
Los Leones suffered an early setback at home to Getafe in Week 20, but Athletic responded in fiery fashion as veteran Raul Garcia collected two of their five goals:
Barca sits third in La Liga, 10 points below leaders Atletico Madrid despite having played one game more. Now is the time to start turning results if they’re to have a chance at overcoming that void to win the title, having already reached the halfway mark in their season.
Athletic are seeing positive changes for their second half of the campaign under Marcelino, though the fact remains they haven’t won at the Camp Nou in La Liga since November 2001. Faith in the new regime will reach new heights if they can clinch a result on Sunday, with recent evidence to suggest a share of the spoils at minimum is within their capabilities.