Pep Guardiola's men relinquished their Liga title and their Champions League crown, leaving the domestic cup as their only route to adding a major piece of silverware to their Supercups and Club World Cup triumphs.
Athletic had the heartbreak of reaching their first-ever European final only to be comprehensively beaten by Atletico Madrid, and their run in the Europa League affected their league form to the extent that they finished the campaign in 10th place.
The Basque side have already ensured a place in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League next season, but they will go straight into the group phase if they beat a Barcelona side hoping to make sure Guardiola's final match in charge is a winning one.
It would be fair to say then that both sides have pretty strong incentives, and William Hill price an Athletic win at 17/2 (9.50) while Barcelona are offered at 2/7 (1.28).
Bilbao gave Barca one of their toughest away matches during the Liga season, with only a last-minute Lionel Messi strike earning Barcelona a 2-2 draw in the driving rain back in November.
The two met more recently at the end of March at the Nou Camp, where a weakened Athletic side were beaten 2-0 as coach Marcelo Bielsa made changes with one eye on the Europa League.
Both teams met in the earlier rounds of last season's Copa del Rey with the tie finishing 1-1 on aggregate and Barca progressing courtesy of a solitary away goal. Three of the last five meetings have all ended in draws and the price of 7/1 (8.00) for Athletic Draw No Bet provides excellent value.
The serious money though should be invested in both teams to score, available at what looks like a generous price of 8/11 (1.73). This bet has paid out in six of the last eight games between these two sides, and with the array of attacking talent on display at both ends of the pitch - not to mention the extreme motivation the two sides have to go for the win - this looks an extremely solid selection at an attractive price.
|Both teams to score 8/11 (1.73) with William Hill
Athletic Draw No Bet at 7/1 (8.00) with William Hill
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Phil Kitromilides is a sports broadcaster working on radio and TV in London and Madrid, you can also follow Phil on
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