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Preview: Athletic Bilbao vs. Elche - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's La Liga clash between Athletic Bilbao and Elche, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Athletic Bilbao will be looking to return to winning ways in Spain's top flight when they continue their 2020-21 campaign at home to Elche on Sunday afternoon.

The hosts will enter the contest off the back of a 1-0 home defeat to Real Sociedad on Thursday, while Elche picked up an impressive point against the champions Real Madrid on Wednesday.


Match preview

Athletic Bilbao head coach Gaizka Garitano pictured in March 2020© Reuters

Only Real Betis (nine) have lost more La Liga matches than Athletic (eight) this season, but the Basque outfit have picked up 18 points from five wins and three draws to occupy 12th position in the table.

Gaizka Garitano's side have certainly had their problems this season and will enter this weekend's contest off the back of a disappointing 1-0 home defeat to Sociedad on Thursday.

Athletic are only one point behind ninth-placed Cadiz as things stand, though, and could potentially push for a position in the top half of the table over the next few months.

The Basque outfit will be even more determined to return to winning ways on Sunday considering that their next two in La Liga are at home to Barcelona and away to Atletico Madrid.

Athletic recorded a 3-2 victory when these two teams last locked horns in May 2015, but Elche ran out 2-1 winners when they travelled to San Mames earlier in the season.

Elche manager Jorge Almiron pictured while in charge of San Lorenzo in May 2019© Reuters

Elche, as mentioned, will enter Sunday's contest off the back of a 1-1 draw with Real Madrid; the champions took the lead in the 20th minute of the contest through Luka Modric, but a second-half penalty from Fidel meant that the points were shared at Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero.

Los Franjiverdes secured a return to the top flight by advancing through the Segunda Division playoffs last season, and they are operating at this level for the first time since 2014-15.

All things considered, it has been a solid start to the season for the promoted club, winning three, drawing seven and losing four of their 14 matches to collect 16 points, which has left them in 15th position.

Jorge Almiron's side have failed to win in the league since October 23, though, and suffered defeats to Granada and Atletico before drawing their last two at home to Osasuna and Real Madrid.

Athletic Bilbao La Liga form: LDLWDL

Elche La Liga form: DDLLDD
Elche form (all competitions): DLWLDD


Team News

Athletic Bilbao's Inaki Williams in action against Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos in La Liga on July 5, 2020© Reuters

Athletic will again be without the services of Yeray Alvarez and Peru Nolaskoain through injury, while Unai Lopez had to be substituted against Sociedad due to a knee problem and will also be unavailable.

Garitano is expected to resist the temptation to make wholesale changes this weekend, meaning that Asier Villalibre, Inaki Williams and Alex Berenguer should all feature in the final third of the field.

There could be a alteration in attack, though, with Iker Muniain potentially dropping out for Raul Garcia, while Oihan Sancet is also an option for change in a forward position.

As for Elche, Diego Gonzalez and Omenuke Mfulu remain on the sidelines, but the visitors did not pick up any fresh concerns against Real Madrid last time out.

Tete Morente and Josan Ferrandez are both pushing for spots in the side, but it would not be a surprise to see Almiron select the same XI that took to the field against Zinedine Zidane's side.

As a result, Lucas Boye should again keep out Guido Carrillo in the final third of the field, while Dani Calvo and Pere Milla are also expected to start on the bench.

Athletic Bilbao possible starting lineup:
Simon; Capa, Nunez, Martinez, Yuri; Vesga, Vencedor; Berenguer, R Garcia, Williams; Villalibre

Elche possible starting lineup:
Badia; Barragan, Verdu, Josema, Sanchez; Rigoni, Guti, Marcone, Rodriguez, Fidel; Boye


SM words green background

We say: Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Elche

Athletic will view this match as the ideal chance to return to winning ways, but Elche have proved difficult to beat in the league this season, losing just four of their 14 matches; we are finding it tough to pick a winner in this contest and have therefore settled on a 1-1 draw.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data


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Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone pictured in November 2020
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1 38268467254286
2 38259467283984
3 38247785384779
4 38245953332077
5 3817111059382162
6 381710115050061
7 3815131060441658
8 381411135557-253
9 38137184765-1846
10 381113144642446
11 381111163748-1144
12 381111163658-2244
13 381013155053-343
14 38914154657-1141
15 38911182843-1538
16 38911183657-2138
17 38812183455-2136
18 38713183453-1934
19 38516173457-2331
20 38612202952-2330

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