Preview: Athletic Bilbao vs Villarreal – prediction, team news, line-ups
Sports Mole preview Sunday’s La Liga clash between Athletic Bilbao and Villarreal, including predictions, team news and possible line-ups.
Athletic Bilbao will look to bounce back from their heavy loss to Barcelona when they resume their La Liga campaign at home against Villarreal Sunday evening.
The home side are currently sixth in the table, with 18 points from their first 11 games of the season, while Villarreal are seventh, also picking up 18 points in the Spanish top flight so far.
Athletic have made a strong start to the 2022-23 La Liga campaign, collecting 18 points from 11 appearances thanks to a record of five wins, three draws and three losses.
However, Ernesto ValverdeThe team are currently on a four-game winless streak in the Spanish top flight, with their last home win against Almeria at the end of September.
Indeed, it was an unfortunate month of October for the Lions, who drew with Sevilla and Getafe, in addition to losing at home to Atletico Madrid and away to Barcelona, the latter beating them 4- 0 last weekend.
Athletic have three more league games before the World Cup campaign break, taking on Villarreal, Girona and Real Valladolid, and they will want to be in and around the European spots by then.
Valverde’s side finished 10th and eighth in their last two campaigns at this level, but were fifth as recently as 2015-16, while the Basque side finished fourth in 2013-14.
Athletic are also unbeaten against Villarreal in the Spanish top flight since September 2018, when they recorded a 2-1 victory against the Yellow Submarine in the corresponding game last season.
Villarreal, as mentioned, also picked up 18 points from their first 11 games of the season to sit in seventh place, just four points behind fourth-placed Real Sociedad going into the next round of fixtures.
Goals have been hard to come by in La Liga this season, hitting the back of the net just 14 times but conceding just seven, which is the second-best record in the division behind Barcelona.
Villarreal have lost their head coach Unai Emery at Aston Villa earlier this week, with the former Barcelona boss Quique Setien was named the club’s new manager, and the 64-year-old took charge of his first game on Thursday night, which was a 2-2 draw with Hapoel Beersheba in the Europa Conference League.
The Yellow Submarine are through to the next round of the competition as Group C winners, as they also lifted La Liga last weekend, recording a 2-1 win over Almeria.
Villarreal have lost just one of their last five games in all competitions, recording three wins in the process, and like Athletic, they will be looking to clinch a European place in Spain’s top flight this season.
Form of Athletic Bilbao in La Liga:
Form of Villarreal in La Liga:
Form of Villarreal (all competitions):
Athletics will miss again Ander Capa Sunday on injury, while Ander Herrera and Dani Garcia are also expected to be out due to the problems they faced against Barcelona.
Therefore, Oihan Sancet and Unai Vencedor could start as midfield two, with Alex Berenguer to the right and Iker Muniain playing from the left.
There should be no surprises in the final third, meanwhile, with Inaki Williams and Nicholas Williams once again featured for the Basque outfit.
As for Villarreal, Alex Baena and Manu Morlanes are both suspended due to the red cards they received in the win over Almeria last weekend.
The yellow submarine will also be missing Alphonse Pedraza, Gerard Moreno and John Foyth by injury, while Etienne Capoue is also unlikely to be involved due to a calf problem.
There will be changes from the squad that started in the Europa Conference League on Thursday, with Dani Parejo, Francois Coquelin and Johan Mojica online to return, while Nicholas Jackson should be back to lead the line.
Possible starting line-up of Athletic Bilbao:
Simon; De Marcos, I Martinez, Alvarez, Berchiche; Berenguer, Vencedor, Sancet, Muniain; I Williams, N Williams
Possible starting line-up for Villarreal:
Rulli; Femenia, Albiol, Torres, Mojica; Parejo, Coquelin, Trigueros; Danjuma, Jackson, Chukwueze
We say: Athletic Bilbao 2-2 Villarreal
There isn’t a huge difference in terms of quality from these two sides, and we expect an open and entertaining contest on Sunday. Both managers would surely settle for a point here, and we’re struggling to separate them at San Mames.
For a data analysis of the most likely outcomes, scores and more for this match, please click here.
Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this game. Click here to find out what else they predict for this game and for more of their proven football tips.Less than 3.5: loop