TEAM NEWS: Suarez benched as Alcacer earns rare Barcelona start

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Luis Enrique has reshuffled his pack for the clash against Athletic Bilbao, leaving the likes of Jordi Alba and Ivan Rakitic on the bench

Barcelona have left Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic on the bench as they take on Athletic Bilbao looking to close the gap on Real Madrid at the top of La Liga.

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Luis Enrique's men take on their Basque rivals at Camp Nou in a bid to cut Madrid's four-point lead in the table but will have to do so without Suarez.

The Uruguayan had a hand in at least one goal in six of his last seven league games with eight goals and two assists though his recent exertions have caught up with him, Paco Alcacer chosen to lead the line instead.

The summer arrival from Valencia is still seeking his first La Liga goal for the Spanish champions, with Lionel Messi and Neymar tasked with supplying the Spain striker with ammunition.

Indeed, Messi has had a hand in at least one goal in  20 of his last 25 games against Athletic in all competitions with 20 goals and nine assists.

Barcelona badly need to take all three points against Ernesto Valverde's visitors - who have never won any of their matches at Camp Nou under his charge - as they aim to come within one point of Madrid ahead of the latter's clash at Celta Vigo, which is at risk of being cancelled.

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Ivan Rakitic has been dropped following his below-par performance in last week's 1-1 draw at Real Betis, with Andre Gomes coming into the centre of midfield alongside Arda Turan and Rafinha,

Samuel Umtiti has been kept his place in a rearguard that will need to keep out Athletic talent Inaki Williams, who starts in place of Aritz Aduriz.

Barcelona XI: Ter Stegen; Vidal, Pique, Umtiti, Mathieu; Rafinha, Gomes, Turan; Messi, Alcacer, Neymar

Subs: Rakitic, Luis Suarez, Mascherano, Roberto, Denis Suarez, Cillessen, Alba

Athletic XI: Iraizoz; De Marcos, Alvares, Laporte, Balenziaga; San Jose, Iturraspe; Lekue, Garcia, Munian; Williams

Subs: Boveda, Extebarria, Susaeta, Saborit, Goni, Gargallo, Aduriz

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