MX23RW : Friday, August 19 02:33:56| >> :600:270470:270470:
[monks data]
Apr 3, 2022 at 1pm UK at San Mames
Athletic Bilbao
2 - 1
Berenguer (32'), Villalibre (86')
Vesga (50'), Nunez (90+5')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Josan (90+2')
Bigas (47'), Marcone (56'), Carrillo (61'), Josan (67')

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.

Having fallen off the pace in the race for the top six in the La Liga table, Athletic Bilbao will look to return from the international break with a victory when they host Elche on Sunday.

The hosts now find themselves eighth in the Spanish top flight, seven points behind sixth-placed Real Sociedad, while their visitors will aim to move further clear of the threat of relegation.

Match preview

Athletic Bilbao coach Marcelino Garcia Toral reacts on March 2, 2022© Reuters

With 34 points from their opening 23 matches, Athletic Bilbao looked in a strong place in the race for continental qualification in La Liga, but they have since had to battle through a run of inconsistency.

Marcelino's men firstly suffered a 3-2 defeat to strugglers Mallorca, before bouncing back in eye-catching fashion with a 4-0 thrashing of high-flying Real Sociedad, but that high would not last long as they went on to be beaten by the same scoreline by Barcelona.

In line with their general lack of consistency recently, Athletic Club again rebounded with a home win over basement side Levante, but they headed into the international break on the back of consecutive disappointing results, falling to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Real Betis and being held to a stalemate by Getafe, as Yuri Berchiche's goal was only enough to force a share of the spoils.

Having collected just seven points from their last six top-flight outings, Los Leones have seen their standing slip in the race for European football, now sitting seven points behind sixth-placed Real Sociedad.

With only nine league games left to play, Marcelino's side will know that they must now put an eye-catching run together in the final straight of the season to stand a chance of bridging that gap and sneaking into the top six.

Elche coach Francisco Rodriguez on March 6, 2022© Reuters

They take on an Elche side who will look to further boost their survival hopes, having enjoyed a climb recently.

At the halfway stage of the season, Elche looked to be in real danger of the drop with just 16 points from their first 19 games, but they have enjoyed an impressive turnaround recently.

Since mid-January, Francisco's side have played 10 matches in La Liga, picking up five wins and 16 points to double their tally and move out of the bottom three, with the most recent triumph coming away at Granada prior to a narrow defeat to Valencia and the subsequent international break.

As a result of what has been an inspired improvement, Los Franjiverdes now find themselves 14th in the Spanish top flight with a six-point lead over the drop zone, and, with nine games left to defend that gap, they will be aiming to stretch their cushion at the weekend.

Athletic Bilbao La Liga form:
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • D

Athletic Bilbao form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • D

Elche La Liga form:
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • L

Team News

Athletic Bilbao's Yeray Alvarez and Mikel Balenziaga on February 27, 2022© Reuters

Athletic Bilbao come into the game without centre-back Yeray Alvarez, who will serve a suspension after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season before the break.

However, Spanish international Inigo Martinez may be fit to return to the back line alongside Dani Vivian following an injury issue.

Inaki Williams continues to be a key man in attack, having netted seven goals and provided three assists in La Liga this term.

Elche have several suspensions to contend with after Johan Mojica was sent off last time out against Valencia, while right-back Antonio Barragan was shown a fifth yellow card of the campaign.

Elsewhere, experienced midfielder Javier Pastore will continue to miss out, with Omar Mascarell and Gerard Gumbau set to play alongside one another in the engine room in his absence.

Lucas Boye has impressed since his summer switch from Torino, netting seven goals in 22 La Liga appearances, and the Argentinian will continue to spearhead the attack.

Athletic Bilbao possible starting lineup:
Simon; De Marcos, Vivian, Martinez, Berchiche; Berenguer, Vencedor, Mesga, Muniain; Williams, Garcia

Elche possible starting lineup:
Badia; Palacios, Roco, Gonzalez, Olaza; Milla, Mascarell, Gumbau, Fidel; Ponce, Boye

SM words green background

We say: Athletic Bilbao 2-1 Elche

While the two sides have been going in different directions recently, the recent break should have acted as a reset for Athletic Bilbao, who will be desperate to return to action with a victory.

We think Marcelino's men have the quality to reverse their fortunes and see off Elche on home turf.

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