MX23RW : Wednesday, April 14 05:11:40| >> :600:232367:232367:
Feb 21, 2021 at 8pm UK at San Mames
Athletic BilbaoAthletic Bilbao
1-1
VillarrealVillarreal
Berenguer (44')
Garcia (53'), Lopez (86')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Moreno (16')
Capoue (40'), Foyth (55')

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

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

Villarreal will be looking to win in La Liga for the first time since January 8 when they travel to San Mames on Sunday evening to take on Athletic Bilbao.

The Yellow Submarine, who beat Red Bull Salzburg 2-0 in the Europa League on Thursday, are currently sixth in Spain's top flight, eight points above 10th-placed Athletic, who have a game in hand.


Match preview

Athletic Bilbao's Raul Garcia celebrates scoring against Real Madrid in the semi-finals of the Spanish Super Cup on January 14, 2021© Reuters

Athletic will be aiming to make it back-to-back victories in the league, having recorded an impressive 4-0 win away to Cadiz on Monday night, with Alex Berenguer netting a brace for the Basque outfit.

Marcelino's side cannot afford to become distracted in Spain's top flight as they are only five points behind seventh-placed Real Betis and will be eyeing a potential Europa League finish this term.

However, the club will certainly be thinking about the Copa del Rey as they will face Levante in the second leg of their semi-final on March 4, with the tie delicately poised at 1-1 from the first leg.

Athletic will also take on Real Sociedad in the final of the 2020 competition at the start of April, with the match being postponed last year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Los Leones recorded a 1-0 win over Villarreal when the two teams locked horns in the corresponding match last season, while they held the Yellow Submarine to a 1-1 draw in the reverse game back in December.

Villarreal coach Unai Emery reacts in the Europa League on February 18, 2021© Reuters

Villarreal, as mentioned, will enter Sunday's clash off the back of an impressive 2-0 win over Salzburg in the first leg of their last-32 Europa League clash on Thursday evening.

Paco Alcacer and Fer Nino scored the goals for the Spanish outfit, who are now in an excellent position to book their spot in the last-16 stage of the competition in the reverse fixture.

Villarreal's league form has tailed off, though, having picked up just four points from their last five matches, and they suffered a 2-1 home defeat to Real Betis last weekend.

Unai Emery's side have not actually triumphed in the league since a 4-0 success at Celta Vigo on January 8, with the disappointing run seeing them drop behind Real Sociedad into sixth position in the table.

El Submarino Amarillo are only two points behind Sociedad, though, and have only lost three of their 23 league matches this season, which is the second-best record in the division behind Atletico Madrid (1).

Athletic Bilbao La Liga form: WLWLDW
Athletic Bilbao form (all competitions): WLWDDW

Villarreal La Liga form: WDDDDL
Villarreal form (all competitions): WDLDLW


Team News

Villarreal's Gerard Moreno celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates against Real Madrid on November 21, 2020© Reuters

Athletic will be without the services of Unai Nunez and Mikel Vesga this weekend through suspension, with both players picking up yellow cards in the win over Cadiz last time out. As a result, Inigo Martinez should return in the middle of the defence, while Dani Garcia is expected to replace Vesga.

Peru Nolaskoain is still unavailable through injury, but the Basque side are otherwise in excellent shape, meaning that head coach Marcelino has plenty of options for change.

Oscar de Marcos had been operating on the right of midfield, but Berenguer scored twice in the win over Cadiz and should therefore retain his spot alongside Inaki Williams, Iker Muniain and Raul Garcia in attack.

As for Villarreal, Manu Trigueros is available following a suspension and should start in midfield, but Francis Coquelin, Alberto Moreno, Vicente Iborra and Mario Gaspar are all still injured.

Head coach Emery is expected to stick with the bulk of the side that started in the Europa League on Thursday, with Alcacer, Gerard Moreno and Moi Gomez all operating in attacking positions.

There could be a change at left-back, though, with Alfonso Pedraza replacing Pervis Estupinan, while Sergio Asenjo will also return to the starting XI between the sticks.

Athletic Bilbao possible starting lineup:
Simon; Capa, Alvarez, Martinez, Berchiche; Berenguer, Lopez, D Garcia, Muniain; R Garcia, Williams

Villarreal possible starting lineup:
Asenjo; Pena, Albiol, Torres, Pedraza; Parejo, Capoue, Trigueros; G Moreno, Alcacer, M Gomez


SM words green background

We say: Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Villarreal

This is a very, very difficult match to call as both sides will feel that they can hurt the other in the final third of the field. Athletic have had much longer to prepare for this contest and should have an advantage, but Villarreal are tough to beat so we have settled on a low-scoring draw at San Mames.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or an away 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/Away:data


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Todays Game Header Right
Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Atletico MadridAtletico30207352203267
2Real Madrid30206453242966
3Barcelona30205569264365
4Sevilla30194744242061
5Real Sociedad301211747311647
6Real Betis30145114043-347
7Villarreal301113643331046
8Granada30116133650-1439
9Levante30911103739-238
10Celta Vigo30910114148-737
11Athletic Bilbao30910113933637
12CadizCadiz3098132745-1835
13Valencia30810123742-534
14Osasuna30810122536-1134
15Getafe3079142234-1230
16Huesca30512133145-1427
17Real Valladolid30512132741-1427
18ElcheElche30511142746-1926
19AlavesAlaves3059162447-2324
20EibarEibar30411152236-1423

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