Preview and Prediction
Los Rojiblancos is still leading the table this season with 38 points and two games less than Real Madrid collecting 36 points. It should be a chance for them to revive their winning season in 2013/14. It was the last time they won La Liga. Yet, their shocking exit from Copa del Rey this midweek should awake Diego Simeone that the season is still far from over and any losing focus could cost their opportunity to clinch the title. This weekend, Koke and Co will be facing off Athletic Bilbao which is undergoing slight transition after the dismissal of Gaizka Garitano.
Both teams’ previous games
Diego Simeone’s men sealed a win while visiting Alaves in La Liga last weekend. They thumped the host 2-1 by Marcos Llorente’s and Luis Suarez’s goal. Alaves only managed to respond once by Felipe’s own goal.
Meanwhile, Marcelino’s debut this season was ruined by Bilbao’s loss from the motivated Barcelona. They were defeated 2-3. Inaki Williams opened the scoring with his early goal but Ronald Koeman’s men quickly responded and eventually bagged three goals from Pedri and Messi’s brace. Bilbao could only net a late consolation goal by Inaki Muniain.
Diego Simeone seems to be more comfortable with his 3-4-3 formation. Yet, Joao Felix is doubtful to play here meaning that Luis Suarez might be the lone striker upfront supported by Angel Correa and Thomas Lemar. Some other names on the injury table are the Mexican international Hector Herrera and the Uruguayan centre back Jose Gimenez. The good news is the Englishman Kieran Trippier would be back in the starting IX after his ban was suspended.
Marcelino Toral might still be employing 4-4-2 with Inaki Williams and Raul Garcia as the front men. In the midfield, Dani Garcia and Mikel Vesga will be operating the middle area while Iker Munian and Oscar de Marcos are playing on both flanks. Unfortunately, one of their top performers, the left back Yuri Berchiche is sidelined alongside Yeray Alvarez and Unai Lopez.
Players to watch
The former Liverpool and Barcelona man, Luis Suarez is the club’s current top scorer with nine goals followed by the versatile midfielder Marcos Llorente registering six goals and two assists. One key man to focus on in this fixture is Thomas Lemar who could open the space as well as create chances in the six-yard box with his acceleration and passing prowess.
Meanwhile, in Bilbao, Inaki Williams and Iker Muniain have been irreplaceable key figure of the team in the past three seasons. They have scored eight goals combined plus two assists from former. Some other notable names to watch are the goalkeeper Unai Simon and the centre back Unai Nunez.
Atletico Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao Prediction
Both teams are in need of snatching a maximum point here. Atletico needs a victory to keep Los Blancos at bay, whilst Bilbao is looking for more consistency and positive results to lift them up for the better position and hopefully can secure one berth for the continental competition. Yet, considering their latest form, a narrow win for the home side is more plausible.
Los Choconeros is the slight favourite here. Luis Suarez and Co are backed to win at 7/12, whereas Bilbao’s odds to win are at 3/1. The draw result is at the value of at 36/5.