The crucial stage in La Liga has just begun. Atletico Madrid starts to be under pressure to keep their position and has stumbled several times, including in the previous outing. This midweek, they will have to take on another tricky contender which has not been beaten in the past five games, Athletic Bilbao. Marcelino’s men might only sit on the league table but they managed to advance to Copa del Rey final twice in a row. Both finals are held next month.
Both teams’ previous games
Los Rojiblancos could only muster a 1-1 draw while hosting Real Madrid last weekend. Luis Suarez gave them the led at the early first half but their one goal advantage eventually was denied by Karim Benzema on the 88th minute. Their margin with the runners up is now down to two points only in the standings.
Meanwhile, Bilbao thumped Granada 2-1 at home. Asier Villalibre scored the opener. Jorge Molina was able to find the equaliser first before Alex Berenguer’s long shot from rather tight angle. Their position in the standings, however, still remains the same.
Diego Simeone’s 3-4-2-1 starts to be easily anticipated by his rivals. The Argentine boss might consider deploying 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-4-1 again with Luis Suarez is still the targetman while Angel Correa and Saul Niguez playing as the winger. Koke and Marco Llorente will be operating the midfield area. Thomas Lemar and Joao Felix can be brough on to break the deadlock. The only name on the injury table is the Uruguayan defender Jose Gimenez.
His counterpart, Marcelino Garcia Toral, will still be opting for 4-4-2. Inaki Williams and Raul Garcia should be featuring the frontmen duo upfront, while in the midfield, Alex Berenguer, Iker Muniain, Dani Garcia and Unai Lopez will be supporting them from the second line. Mikel Balenziaga is the only figure on the sideline for this fixture.
Players to watch
Luis Suarez is still Los Choconeros’ main scorer. This prolific striker has notched up 17 goals and provided two goals. Another important figure of the squad is the versatile Marcos Llorente who has contributed eight goals and assists each.
Bilbao’s top performers are the former Torino man, Alex Berenguer has begged seven goals and made two assists. Some other notable names to watch are Inaki Williams with five goals and four assists and the skipper Iker Muniain registering four games and three assists.
Atletico Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao Prediction
Diego Simeone’s men are expected to secure three points here to extend their lead on the top. The race is getting intense and any losing points could lead to their failure to clinch La Liga title which they have not won since 2014. Unfortunately, the game against Bilbao is never easy. Inaki Williams and Co have the same physical prowess as Atletico Madrid. Thus, the game could end in a draw.