Preview and Prediction
The battle of Basque is on this midweek when two most famous teams in the region, Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad are squaring off in San Mames. Bilbao are still in the midtable as usual while Real Sociedad is on the third. Both have their own missions here. Inaki Williams and Co are looking for more consistency while Imano Alguacil’s side is searching for the end of their negative trend. Their ultimate goal stays the same, picking up three points after the Christmas break.
Both teams’ previous games
Athletic Bilbao was able to go home with one point while taking on Villareal on the road before Christmas. They held the host 1-1. Inaki Williams opened the scoring to give them a lead at the first half, while the Yellow Submarines managed to find an equaliser by Yeremy Pino’s volley strike.
On the other hand, Real Sociedad were still unable to end their winless run after being defeated by Atletico Madrid at home. Mario Hermoso and Marcos Llorente netted the goals which brought their continual nightmare in the past nine matches.
Gaizka Garitano is still confident with 4-2-3-1 formation despite the inconsistent form. Asier Villalibre could be back in the line up after his recovery while Inaki Williams, Iker Muniain and the former Torino man, Alex Belenguer shall be supporting them from behind and both flanks.
Imanol Alguacil might still be employing the 4-3-3 formation with the transition to 4-2-3-1. The return of Mikel Ozaryabal should be relieving. He is likely to feature the front three alongside William Jose and Portu or Andre Berrenextea since Adnan Januzaj is still ruled out, and so are Joseba Zaldua, Asier Illaramendi, Luca Sangalli and Miguel Moya. In the midfield, the former Manchester City man, David Silva will be the anchor of their attack accompanied by Mikel Merino.
Players to watch
Their new signing, Alex Belenguer is one of their top performers this season. He has scored two goals and provided one assist. Some other key figures of the team are Inaki Williams and the top assist provider, the left back Yuri Berchiche with three assists so far.
Meanwhile, the 24-year old midfielder Mikel Merino is the irreplaceable figure in the middle along with David Silva. Both have bagged one goal and made two assists each. The top scorer, Mikel Ozaryabal surely will bring more threats to the opponent here with his seven goals and two assists so far, he could make the difference on the attack.
Athletic Bilbao vs Real Sociedad Prediction
Gaizka Garitano’s men actually share the same tactical approach to Mikel Merino and Co by relying on attack from both wings and occasional penetration from the middle or the long range shot. With such similarity, the game shall offer more exciting clash on their attack yet predictable as well. Considering both latest form, a draw seems like a fair result for both.