MX23RW : Wednesday, July 28 22:17:31| >> :600:5913572:5913572:
May 22, 2021 at 5pm UK at Martinez Valero
Athletic BilbaoAthletic Bilbao
Boye (28'), Guti (73')
Mfulu (33'), Piatti (58'), Guti (74')
FT(HT: 1-0)

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

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

It is crunch time for relegation-threatened Elche, who will host Athletic Bilbao on the last day of the La Liga season knowing that their top-flight status very much hangs in the balance.

The mission for Fran Escriba's Elche is simple: pick up all three points against their Basque visitors and pray results are favourable elsewhere.

Match preview

Elche's Dani Calvo celebrates scoring their first goal with Cifu on March 13, 2021© Reuters

Elche looked down and out not so long ago, but a shock 3-1 win away to Cadiz has put Escriba's men very much back in contention for La Liga survival, with the team now neck-and-neck with 17th-placed Huesca.

With four sides competing for survival on the last day of the season, to say things are looking tense would be an understatement.

Elche have lost their last two La Liga encounters against Athletic and have not suffered three consecutive defeats against them since September 1964.

Fortunately for Elche, Escriba has won two of his last three clashes against Athletic.

It will be a tall order for Elche to get the better of Athletic, but there is no doubt that Escriba's embattled side will give it a shot.

Athletic Bilbao coach Marcelino reacts on April 3, 2021© Reuters

After a mesmerising run of form following the appointment of Marcelino earlier this season, Athletic's season appears to have plateaued in recent weeks.

Marcelino's men have lost their last two league outings, with Huesca and Real Madrid both beating them 1-0.

Currently ninth in the standings, Athletic have picked up eight points from their last six league games.

If Athletic emerge victorious this weekend, they will achieve a La Liga double against Elche for just the fourth time, and the first since 1970.

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

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

Team News

Athletic Bilbao's Inigo Martinez celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates on April 25, 2021© Reuters

Escriba will be without defender Johan Mojica, who is out with a muscular injury.

Guti is expected to retain his spot in the heart of the midfield after serving his suspension.

The biggest loss for Marcelino will be skipper Iker Muniain, who is unlikely to feature due to a hamstring injury.

Other absentees for Athletic include Ander Capa and Yuri Berchiche, who are both out injured.

Elche possible starting lineup:
Gazzaniga; Barragan, Gonzalo, Gonzalez; Josan Fernandez, Guti, Mfulu, Fidel, Piatti; Pere Milla, Boye

Athletic Bilbao possible starting lineup:
Simon; De Marcos, Alvarez, Martinez, Balenziaga; Alex Berenguer, D Garcia, Vencedor, Morcillo; Williams, Sancet

SM words green background

We say: Elche 1-2 Athletic Bilbao

While three points for Elche would certainly be a fairytale end to the campaign for the club, we think Athletic will prove to be too much for Escriba's men. Elche made a splash when they beat Cadiz last time out, and we are not sure they will be able to do the same against Athletic.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting under 3.5 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.Under 3.5:data


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Real Madrid's Marco Asensio celebrates scoring against Sevilla in La Liga on May 9, 2021
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Thursday's key events

· Comeback queen and super-mum Helen Glover goes for her third Olympic gold alongside Polly Swann in the women's pair final (1.30am)
· There is also a medal on offer for GB pair Emily Craig and Imogen Grant in the lightweight women's double scull final (2.10am)

· As second-fastest qualifier for the final, Team GB's James Wilby is among the medal contenders in the men's 200m breaststroke (2.44am)
· Alys Thomas takes part in the women's 200m butterfly final, although he faces a difficult task to challenge for the medals (3.28am)
· Caeleb Dressel of the USA has been touted by some as the successor to Michael Phelps, and he has the chance to notch up a fourth Olympic gold in the men's 100m freestyle final (3.37am)

· After Team GB's men narrowly missed out on a medal, the women get their campaign underway against the Russian Olympic Committee (3am) and New Zealand (10.30am)

· It is a Great Britain vs. Netherlands double-header, with the men up first in Pool B (4.15am)
· Most eyes will be on the women's showdown between the two nations, though, as Netherlands - the world's best team - look to gain revenge on GB for defeat in the 2016 Olympic final (11am)

· Mallory Franklin takes part in the women's canoe semi-final, and will hope to do enough to qualify for the final later in the day (6am-8.45am)

· With Simone Biles now out of the women's all-around final, the competition has been blown wide open. Team GB twins Jessica and Jennifer Gadirova are among those taking part (11.50am-2.05pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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