Preview and Prediction
Travelling to Basque region to take on Athletic Bilbao might be one of the two remaining obstacles for Madrid in the title race this season. Despite leading four points and his archrival’s poor form lately, Zidane’s men must stay focus not to lose points in each game till the end. Not to mention Bilbao’s positive trend since the restart makes this clash might be as tough as the first leg when they were held by Inaki Williams and Co in a goalless draw.
The teams’ previous matches
Bilbao were able to achieve a win while facing off Valencia on the road. They defeated the host 2-0 by Raul Garcia’s brace. Gaizka Garitano was experimenting his tactic using false nine and it worked well. It was their third victory after the lockdown.
Los Blancos also secured a narrow win while hosting Getafe in the midweek. They had been knocking on the door of their defence but failed. Luckily, they were given a penalty and the captain Sergio Ramos boldly converted it. Such results extend their lead in the standings with six wins consecutively after La Liga resumed.
Gaizka Garitano is likely to deploy 5-3-2 formation this time as he did in the first leg at Bernabeu. Raul Garcia, who was given a false nine role previously, will be accompanying Inaki Williams upfront while Asier Villalibre can be the option to stun Zidane’s men at the second half.
Real Madrid under Zidane will be employing 4-3-3 formation with various transitions to 4-3-2-1, 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-1-2. Karim Benzema will still be the main frontman supported by Vinicius Junior and Marco Asencio on both sides. Eden Hazard and Rodrygo can be the back up for the second half to break the deadlock.
Players to watch
The Basque side’s goalie Unai Simon is likely to be the busiest one to save or deny a number of shots of goal from Karim Benzema and Co, along with Inigo Martinez and Yeray Alvarez on the defence line. Another notable name to watch is the former Atletico Madrid man, Raul Garcia who has bagged thirteen goals and provided one assist so far.
In Real Madrid, Karim Benzema is the key man upfront after Cristiano Ronaldo left Los Blancos. The Frenchman has scored seventeen goals and seven assists in La Liga. Some other top performers in the squad this season are Casemiro with four goals and two assists, Toni Kroos with four goals and five assists, plus the wingback Dani Carvajal.
Bilbao vs Madrid Prediction
The home side will definitely be able to frustrate Real Madrid considering their solid defensive stance and they did succeed to do so in Bernabeu last year. Unless Eden Hazard, Vinicius Jr or Marco Asencio performs superbly well in this game or the lady luck is on their side, Zidane’s men might have to go home with only one point on their hands.
The visiting side seems to be regarded as the favourite. They are priced to win at 1.60, whereas Gaizka Garitano’s men are only projected to win at 5.70. The odds for the draw result are at the value of 4.00.