Iniesta, contra l'Athletic Club. FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ (FCB).

Three days after the tough match at the San Siro, FC Barcelona will receive Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou (22.00 Canal + and R@dio Barça) with the objective of maintaining the form of recent weeks that has allowed Guardiola’s side to close the gap with Real Madrid  from 10 points to 6. With the return of the quarter-finals of the Champions League against Milan in the background, the players should focus exclusively on the crucial game against the Basques if they want to continue their League title aspirations.

Thinking about Milan is banned

Barça will take the field knowing the Real Madrid result, who are playing at 20.00 away at Osasuna in the always difficult Reyno de Navarra. But as Valdés said earlier this week "looking at Madrid’s schedule is useless if we don’t win". So, they need to win again if they want to have options of winning the League title. Barça’s other open front is Milan and Tuesday's game at the Camp Nou, which will decide who goes through to the semifinals. Although it is difficult not to think about it, Pep Guardiola, in the press conference before the match, said that he was confident the team will not fall into the temptation of having their heads stuck in the Champions League. "If we had focussed more on other games than the next one we wouldn’t have won 13 titles out of 16".

The European Football week leaves it’s mark on the match

Both teams come into this League classic fixture after games in Europe this week in which Barça drew with Milan, on Wednesday, in the Champions League, and Athletic Club Bilbao beat Schalke away, on Thursday, in their Europa League match. Despite the circumstances and the little time to prepare for the match, a spectacle is assured at the Camp Nou and the first to be aware of that is Guardiola who predicted "an open game right until the end".

The Catalan side, with the still injured Adriano doubtful, seek to get through their eleventh straight game without defeat. And they will do it against an Athletic team, which, since Bielsa arrived, have been one of the season’s revelations. Strong in Europe, where they have within their reach qualification for the semifinals of the Europa League, they’re not doing so well in the League where they’ve only picked up 1 of the last 12 possible points.

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