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Apr 3, 2010

For the past few days the entire focus of FC Barcelona was on to the clash against Arsenal. Tonight the focus shifts back to the league where FC Barcelona will host sixth placed Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou. With such a tough title race on with Real Madrid, Barca cannot afford to relax a bit. How I wish we hadn't surrendered the healthy lead we had in the league earlier? For Barca it is also a chance to regain the focus after squandering away a 2-0 lead at the Emirates. This match is all about making a bold statement ahead of the Champions League 2nd Leg. And with the Classico happening next Saturday, Barca don't want to conceded any ground to Real Madrid. Guardiola has the entire squad available to him, bar Alves and Iniesta. The former is suspended for this match after picking up a deliberate yellow card his fifth, and the latter is still recovering from injury. Meanwhile Athletic Bilbao will be without Iker Muniain, De Cerio and Pablo Orbaiz. The previous encounter between Barca and Athletic ended in a draw - Barca Drew at Athletic .

Bilbao could be a tough opponent for FC Barcelona

Athletic's form this season has surprised many. They are currently lying in the sixth position, but has a serious chance of grabbing the fourth Champions League qualifying spot. But their away form has not been great. In the last five travels on the road, they failed to win a single match. But still their success this season is quite surprising considering that they only take players from Basque country side. Two seasons ago we all thought they will get relegated, now they are on the upper part of the table. Guardiola will be making some changes to the defense considering that Pique and Puyol are suspended for the match against Arsenal. In all probability we will see Milito and Pique as the center pairing, with Puyol and Maxwell as full-backs. I would also like to see Marquez getting some quality time with Milito in the center in thh second half, as they will be Barca's centre-back choice for Arsenal. The midfield should see Toure returning back and joining hands with Busquets and Xavi. Henry, Ibrahimovic and Messi would be my ideal attacking line-up. And ofcourse Valdez is my choice as custodian. Athletic have some good players in their fols, especially Fernando Llorente and he can hurt us a lot. But still Barca's record againt Athletic at home is very good. We may not see the intensity as in the Arsenal game, but we should be able to win this. I predict a 3-0 victory for Barca.

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