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Athletic Bilbao logo
La Liga | Gameweek 15
Dec 2, 2023 at 3.15pm UK
San Mames Barria
Rayo Vallecano logo
Athletic Bilbao
4 - 0
Rayo Vallecano
Guruzeta (23'), Espino (47' og.), Williams (64'), Williams (68')
Vivian (6')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Espino (32'), Falcao (87')

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

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

Athletic Bilbao will be aiming to stretch their unbeaten run of form to six matches when they welcome Rayo Vallecano to San Mames in La Liga on Saturday afternoon.

The Lions are currently fifth in the La Liga table, boasting 25 points from their opening 14 matches of the season, while Rayo are 10th, collecting 19 points from their first 14 games of 2023-24.

Match preview

Athletic Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde on October 22, 2023© Reuters

Athletic entered Monday's clash with Girona off the back of a three-game winning run in all competitions, and they managed to claim a welcome point against the surprise package in Spain's top flight this term.

The 1-1 draw extended Athletic's unbeaten run to five matches, with their last defeat proving to be a 1-0 reverse against the champions Barcelona on October 22, and a record of seven wins, four draws and three defeats from 14 matches has left them in fifth position on 25 points.

There is actually a six-point gap between the Lions and fourth-placed Barcelona, with the top four pulling clear, but Ernesto Valverde's side will be expecting to be firmly in the mix for a possible Europa League spot this term, and they will be determined to return to winning ways in this match.

Athletic have only lost once at home in the league this season, which came on the opening weekend to Real Madrid, but they have won four and drawn two of their six fixtures in front of their own fans since.

The Basque outfit are also unbeaten in their last three league games with Rayo, including a 3-2 victory in the corresponding match between the two teams last season.

Rayo Vallecano's Unai Lopez celebrates scoring their first goal on November 25, 2023© Reuters

Rayo have proved difficult to beat in Spain's top flight this season, only losing three of their 14 matches, but they have drawn seven times, which is the joint-most in the division alongside Getafe and Mallorca.

The capital outfit have picked up 19 points from their 14 games in 2023-24, which has left them in 10th position in the table, level on points with eighth-placed Getafe, while they are five from Real Betis in seventh.

Los Franjirrojos finished 11th in La Liga last season, but they will be eyeing a top-half spot this term, especially as recent results would have boosted their confidence, holding both Real Madrid and Barcelona to draws in two of their last three matches.

Rayo have had a tough run, facing three of the top four in their last three matches, and they lost at home to Girona on November 11, with their last victory proving to be a 1-0 success at Las Palmas on October 22.

Francisco's side are actually unbeaten in their last four league matches on their travels, which includes the goalless draw that they claimed away to Real Madrid before the November international break.

Athletic Bilbao La Liga form:

Athletic Bilbao form (all competitions):

Rayo Vallecano La Liga form:

Rayo Vallecano form (all competitions):

Team News

Alvaro Garcia in action for Rayo Vallecano on August 13, 2022© Reuters

Athletic will again be missing Dani Garcia and Yeray Alvarez through injury, but the home side are otherwise in strong shape heading towards Saturday's contest.

Head coach Valverde is unlikely to find a reason to change the side that started against Girona last time out, with Inaki Williams, Nico Williams and Oihan Sancet again set to support Gorka Guruzeta at centre-forward.

Mikel Vesga and Inigo Ruiz de Galarreta started as the central midfielders in the team's last match, and that should remain the case despite Ander Herrera being available for selection.

As for Rayo, head coach Francisco should have a full complement to choose from, with Alvaro Garcia also available again following a suspension.

Garcia is set to return to the starting side for this contest, but there are not expected to be any surprises elsewhere, with Isi Palazon, Sergio Camello and Oscar Trejo all set to feature in the XI.

Abdul Mumin was substituted in the second half of the clash with Barcelona last time out, but it was a tactical change rather than an enforced one, and he will be fit to start for the visitors this weekend.

Athletic Bilbao possible starting lineup:
Simon; De Marcos, Vivian, Paredes, Lekue; Ruiz de Galarreta, Vesga; I Williams, Sancet, N Williams; Guruzeta

Rayo Vallecano possible starting lineup:
Dimitrievski; Balliu, Mumin, Lejeune, Espino; Palazon, U Lopez, Valentin, A Garcia; Trejo, Camello

SM words green background

We say: Athletic Bilbao 2-1 Rayo Vallecano

Rayo have proven to be difficult to beat this season, and Athletic will be under no illusions of the size of the task facing them this weekend. We are expecting a very close match on Saturday but believe that Athletic's quality in the forward positions will allow them to secure a vital three points.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting a home win 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.Home Win:data

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rhs 2.0
Today's games header
Tables header RHS
1Real Madrid26205154163865
4Atletico MadridAtletico26164652282452
5Athletic Bilbao26147546262049
6Real BetisBetis26101243126542
7Real Sociedad26101063526940
9Las PalmasLas Palmas26106102626036
14Rayo Vallecano26510112236-1425
16Celta Vigo2759133039-924

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