Preview: Athletic Bilbao vs Atletico Madrid – prediction, team news, line-ups
Sports Mole preview Saturday’s La Liga clash between Athletic Bilbao and Atletico Madrid, including predictions, team news and possible line-ups.
Atlético Madrid will look to cement their grip on a place in the top four in La Liga when they travel to San Mames on Saturday night to face Athletic Bilbao.
Diego SimeoneThe team are currently fourth in the table, four points clear of fifth-placed Real Betis, while Athletic sit eighth, seven points behind sixth-placed Real Sociedad in the race for the European finish. .
Athletic enter Saturday’s contest after a 3-2 win at Cadiz last time out, with first-half goals from Raul Garcia, Iker Muniain and Michael Vesga prove enough to secure the three points despite the relegation-threatened hosts launching a late response at the Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla.
MarcelinoThe team are currently eighth in the table, now just four points behind seventh-placed Villarreal, but they are seven points behind sixth-placed Real Sociedad so a Europa League place is beyond them.
The Basque side haven’t finished higher than eighth in Spain’s top flight since 2017, so seventh would certainly be a big step in the right direction, and they’ll be keen to pick up a respectable number of points in their last five games of the campaign.
Athletic have games against top four teams Atletico and Sevilla, in addition to facing Valencia, Granada and Osasuna, with three of their last five games in front of their own fans.
The Lions have picked up 27 points in their 16 home league games this season and will face an Atletico side who have been inconsistent on the road this season, picking up just 24 points in their 16 away matches at Wanda Metropolitano.
Atletico have been unable to defend their La Liga title this season, and bitter rivals Real Madrid could actually win the league this weekend; Simeone’s side are instead focused on securing a place in the top four, currently fourth in the table, four points ahead of fifth-placed Real Betis.
The Red and Whites are just two points behind second-placed Barcelona and second place in the league would be considered a successful campaign given their troubles during the season’s stages.
Atletico have won just one of their last three league games and will enter this match after a goalless draw at home to Granada on April 20.
Simeone’s side will host Real Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano on May 8, with Los Blancos potentially champions by then, before facing Elche, Sevilla and Real Sociedad in their last three matches of the campaign, so a place among the first four is not certain. due to the strength of their dating roster.
Los Colchoneros have actually won just one of their last four league meetings with Athletic, suffering a 2-1 defeat in the corresponding game last season, while the two sides played out a goalless draw at Wanda Metropolitano earlier this season.
Form of Athletic Bilbao in La Liga:
Form of Atletico Madrid in La Liga:
Form of Atletico Madrid (all competitions):
Athletics will be missed by Alex Petxa, Oihan Sancet, Asier Villalibre and Inigo Lekue on injury this weekend, while Mikel Vesga is suspended for the Basque club.
Vesga’s absence, courtesy of his red card against Cadiz last time out, will open the door to Unai Vencedor stand alongside Dani Garcia in the middle of the park.
There could also be a change at right-back, with Youri Berchiche potentially come for Oscar de Marcosbut Nicholas Williams and Raul Garcia are both expected to keep their places in the starting squad.
Atletico, meanwhile, will be boosted by the returns of both Felipe and Geoffrey Kondogbiawith the pair out against Granada through suspension, and they are expected to feature in the starting squad.
Joao Felix, Thomas Lemar, Hector Herrera and Jose Gimenez are all injured, however, and visitors will also be deprived of the services of Stefan Savic by suspension.
Head coach Simeone has a decision to make up front, with Luis Suarez and Angel Correa fight to start next Antoine Griezmannbut Marcos Llorente and Yannick Carrasco should continue in the wing-back positions for the Spanish champions.
Possible starting line-up of Athletic Bilbao:
Simon; Yuri, Vivian, Martinez, Balenziaga; N Williams, D Garcia, Vencedor, Muniain; I Williams, R Garcia
Possible starting line-up of Atletico Madrid:
Oblak; Felipe, Hermoso, Reinildo; Llorente, DePaul, Kondogbia, Koke, Carrasco; Griezmann, Correa
We say: Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Atletico Madrid
Only Cadiz (13) have drawn more league games than Athletic (12) this season, and we believe the Basque side will secure some of the spoils here. Atletico need to win to cement their grip on a top-four spot, but the champions struggled against Granada last time out and may have to settle for another point.
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