The Catalans romped home to the title last term but will expect a renewed challenge from runners-up Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid over the coming campaign and will want to lay down an early marker of their quality.
Bilbao is rarely an easy venue to visit, and with the hosts having notably defeated Borussia Monchengladbach and secured draws against West Ham and Roma over the summer, they will hope to be a tough nut to crack.
|Game||Athletic Club vs Barcelona|
|Date||Friday, August 16|
|Time||8:00pm BST / 3:00pm ET|
|Stream (US)||fubo TV (7-day free trial)|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the game can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial).
New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|beIN Sports / beIN Sports en Espanol||fubo TV (7-day free trial)|
In the UK, the match will be shown on ITV 4 and can be streamed via The ITV Hub.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|ITV 4||The ITV Hub|
Squads & Team News
|Goalkeepers||Ter Stegen, Pena|
|Defenders||Pique, Lenglet, Umtiti, Firpo, Alba, Umtiti, Semedo|
|Midfielders||Busquets, De Jong, Rakitic, Alena, Roberto, Rafinha, Coutinho|
|Forwards||Griezmann, Suarez, Dembele|
With Lionel Messi not fit following a calf injury, Ousmane Dembele takes up a spot on the right of the midfield.
Neto, the second-choice goalkeeper, is out after breaking his wrist.
Frenkie de Jong is in the lineup after returning to training on Wednesday, while Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic start from the bench.
Barcelona starting XI: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Alena, De Jong, Roberto; Dembele, Suarez, Griezmann
|Position||Athletic Club squad|
|Defenders||Capa, Alvarez, Nunez, Berchiche, Balenziaga, De Marcos, Vivian|
|Midfielders||Etxebarria, Dani Garcia, Muniain, Raul Garcia, Lopez, San Jose, Sancet, Larrazabal|
Athletic are set to be without a handful of important players for this clash. Inigo Martinez, Inigo Cordoba and Ibau Gomez are the most prominent of their absentees.
The club were boosted earlier this week by attacker Inaki Williams signing an astonishing nine-year deal, which is set to keep him at San Mames until he is 34.
Athletic Club starting XI: Simon; Capa, Alvarez, Nunez, Berchiche; Lopez, Dani Garcia; Muniain, Raul Garcia, De Marcos; Williams
Betting & Match Odds
Barcelona are hot 13/20 favourites to win this match with bet365. Athletic are on offer at 17/4, while the draw is available at 14/5.
Barcelona’s defence of their La Liga crown gets underway on Friday with a trip to Athletic Club.
Ernesto Valverde’s side eased to the crown in May, finishing 11 points clear of next-best Atletico Madrid and a stunning 19 ahead of Clasico rivals Real Madrid.
They will not expect to have life so easy over the coming campaign, particularly with their opponents having invested heavily in their squads. But having been reinforced by Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong, Barca have their own new superstars to fawn over.
Pre-season might not have been quite flawless for Valverde’s side, but they were not far away from it, winning their last four friendly matches, including a couple of thumping victories over Napoli – and those came without the injured Lionel Messi.
Friday’s clash presents them the opportunity to send a signal to those aspiring to dethrone them that they remain as formidable as ever – even if they start the season without Messi, who has a calf problem.
“We’re not going to take risks with Leo,” Valverde confirmed on Thursday. “He’s not trained with the team. We’ll be patient but his recovery is going well.
“We want to repeat what we did last year and reach May 1 aspiring to win four titles, but it’s very difficult to achieve. In the aspects we did not do well, we want to improve.”
Athletic, meanwhile, finished the 2018-19 campaign a very respectable eighth. After a slow start to the season, they proved especially strong at home, losing only twice in La Liga over the course of the entire campaign.
Barcelona were frustrated to a scoreless draw in February, while Real Madrid fared no better and Atleti were even defeated 2-0.
“Last year we played a very good game and we hope to do the same or even improve on it and get the win, that’s the goal we have in mind,” coach Gaizka Garitano said.
“Last year we had a great relationship with our fans, and it helps us a lot. It infects the team. It’s like having an extra player.”
Backed by a raucous Basque crowd filled with pre-season optimism, they will hope to maintain an undefeated home league record now stretching back to October 5, 2018.