MX23RW : Thursday, July 29 02:40:27| >> :600:5633262:5633262:
Aug 30, 2015 at 5.30pm UK at Ipurua Municipal Stadium
Athletic Bilbao
Berjon (34' pen.), Adrian (61')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Preview: Eibar vs. Athletic Bilbao

Sports Mole previews Sunday's La Liga clash between Eibar and Athletic Bilbao.

The first Basque derby of the La Liga takes place on Sunday when Eibar play host to Athletic Bilbao.

The visitors come into this game after losing on the opening day of the campaign last week, while Eibar find themselves top of the table after winning their first game of the season.


An assortment of Eibar players celebrate their promotion on May 31, 2014© AFP

Eibar have been handed a second chance at La Liga football of sorts after their reprieve from relegation last season.

Armeros finished 18th in the table but avoided the drop after 13th-placed Elche were relegated instead as a punishment for financial mismanagement.

The Basque side embarked on their first ever campaign as a top-flight club last term and earned much praise for the way they performed, despite having by far and away the smallest wage budget in the league.

At the halfway point of the season they were as high as eighth, but a poor run of form in the second half of the campaign saw them drop into the relegation zone.

Having escaped an immediate return to the Segunda Division by the skin of their teeth, Jose Luis Mendilibar's side will be looking to push on and avoid another relegation battle this time around.

The club have been busy in the transfer market this summer despite their limited resources, bringing in 16 new players, including Antonio Luna from Aston Villa and Simone Verdi on loan from AC Milan.

They got their season off to the perfect start last week with a 3-1 victory away at Granada, thanks to goals from Adrian Gonzalez, Gonzalo Escalante and last season's top scorer Mikel Arruabarrena.

Recent league form: W

Athletic Bilbao

Athletic Bilbao's defender Mikel San Jose is congratulated by teammates midfielder Benat Etxebarria (L), midfielder Oscar de Marcos (3rd L) and defender Xabier Etxeita (R) after scoring during the Spanish Supercup first-leg football match Athletic Club Bi© Getty Images

Bilbao have had a busy start to the new season, playing no less than seven competitive fixtures already due to Europa League and Spanish Super Cup commitments.

Ernesto Valverde's side opened up their league campaign against Barcelona, whom they had beaten just a week before to lift the Super Cup. However, there was to be no repeat against the Catalans, as Luis Suarez gave them a 1-0 win at San Mames.

Either side of the clashes with Barcelona, Bilbao faced Zilina across two legs for a place in the group stages of the Europa League.

Having lost the first leg in Slovakia 3-2 a week ago, Los Leones secured a 1-0 win in the return on Thursday to narrowly book their place in the competition proper.

A seventh-placed finish was a good return for Bilbao last season and they will be looking to emulate that at the least this term.

Recent league form: L
Recent form (all competitions): WDLLW

Team News

Athletic Bilbao's goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz celebrates after his team scored during the Spanish league football match Athletic Club Bilbao vs Valencia CF at the San Mames stadium in Bilbao on October 6, 2013© Getty Images

Eibar have no injury concerns ahead of this match and could go with the same side that saw off Granada.

Milan loanee Simone Verdi had to settle for a place on the bench in that one and Mendilibar might be tempted to keep him there and not alter a winning team.

Antonio Luna, Keko, Sergi Enrich, Adrian Gonzalez and Ivan Ramis all made their league debuts last weekend and they are expected to remain in the lineup for the visit of Bilbao.

Valverde made four changes to his side ahead of the second leg against Zilina, with Gorka Iraizoz and Mikel Rico dropped to the bench and Mikel Balenziaga ruled out through injury.

Iraizoz and Rico are likely to come back into the side, but Balenziaga looks set to miss out. Centre-backs Mikel San Jose and Xabier Etxeita could make their comebacks from injury, with former Eibar man Eneko Boveda starting at right-back.

Aritz Aduriz, who bagged three goals in the two games with Zilina, is expected to lead the line for the visitors.

Eibar possible starting lineup:
Irureta; Ramis, Escalente, Capa, Sergi; Dani, Dos Santos, Luna, Keko, Saul; Adrian

Athletic Bilbao possible starting lineup:
Iraizoz; Boveda, Etxeita, San Jose, Marcos; Benat, Jose; Susaeta, Erato, Merino; Aduriz

Head To Head

The teams have met four times in the past, with three draws and the only win so far going to Bilbao.

That win came on the team's last visit to Ipurura Municipal Stadium in March, when a strike from Carlos Gurpegi was enough to give them a 1-0 victory.

Eibar held Bilbao to a credible draw in the first league meeting between the teams at San Mames last September.

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Eibar 1-2 Athletic Bilbao

Eibar will be buoyed by their victory over Granada last week, but Bilbao offer a completely different test and the hosts will have to be at their best to win. The visitors have more competitive football under their belts this season and that extra sharpness should be enough to earn them the victory.

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Ernesto Valverde head coach of Athletic Bilbao during the first leg of UEFA Champions League qualifying play-offs round match between SSC Napoli and Athletic Club on August 19, 2014
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