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

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

Real Madrid will be looking to keep themselves firmly in the title argument when they play the penultimate match of their 2020-21 La Liga campaign away to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday evening.

Zinedine Zidane's side are currently second in the table, two points behind leaders Atletico Madrid, while Athletic occupy ninth position, now four points from eighth-placed Celta Vigo.


Match preview

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

It has been a strange last few weeks for Athletic, who have played in two Copa del Rey finals since the start of April, losing the rearranged 2020 edition to Real Sociedad before going down 4-0 to Barcelona in the 2021 final.

The Basque outfit are on course to better last season's 11th-placed finish, though, with a total of 46 points from 36 matches leaving them in ninth position in the table, two points ahead of 11th-placed Osasuna.

Athletic are four points behind eighth-placed Celta, though, meaning that ninth might be as high as they can go this term, which would be seen as a solid season for the club.

Marcelino's side had actually been on a nine-game unbeaten run in Spain's top flight ahead of their trip to Huesca on Wednesday evening, but the hosts recorded a 1-0 victory courtesy of an effort from Sandro Ramirez.

Athletic have been relatively strong on their own patch this term, picking up 30 points from 18 matches, but they will be welcoming a Real Madrid side with the best away record in La Liga this season.

Luka Modric celebrates scoring for Real Madrid against Granada in La Liga on May 13, 2021© Reuters

Real Madrid kept the pressure on leaders Atletico on Thursday evening courtesy of an impressive 4-1 victory at Granada, with Luka Modric, Rodrygo, Alvaro Odriozola and Karim Benzema on the scoresheet.

The win moved Los Blancos onto 78 points from 36 matches and has left them two points clear of third-placed Barcelona and two points behind leaders Atletico entering the final two games of the campaign.

Zidane's team will surely have to win their next two matches against Athletic and Villarreal to stand a chance of finishing at the summit but even then, they will have to rely on Atletico coming unstuck against either Osasuna or Real Valladolid.

Real Madrid have certainly had their problems this season, and the manner of their Champions League exit to Chelsea was hugely disappointing, but they could still end 2020-21 with the La Liga title.

As mentioned, Los Blancos have been strong on their travels in the league this season, while they are unbeaten against Athletic in La Liga since March 2015 and ran out 3-1 winners in the reverse match earlier this term.

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

Real Madrid La Liga form:
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • W

Real Madrid form (all competitions):
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • W



Team News

Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos has a stretch on January 14, 2021© Reuters

Athletic will again be without the services of Peru Nolaskoain, Ander Capa, Iker Muniain and Yuri Berchiche this weekend through injury, while Yeray Alvarez, Inigo Lekue and Oier Zarraga could also all miss out.

Head coach Marcelino is expected to make changes to the side that started the defeat to Huesca, with Alex Berenguer, Raul Garcia, Inaki Williams, Unai Vencedor and Dani Garcia all likely to come into the XI.

The back four and goalkeeper should remain unchanged, but Oihan Sancet and Asier Villalibre could both drop down to the bench for Sunday's contest with the reigning champions.

As for Real Madrid, Lucas Vazquez, Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Ferland Mendy and Raphael Varane are still out injured, but Marcelo could be available, having missed out against Granada with a knock.

The visitors have also been hit with the news that Toni Kroos is being forced to self-isolate after coming into close contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus, meaning that he is unlikely to play here.

Federico Valverde could therefore keep his spot as part of a midfield three, while Miguel Gutierrez is likely to retain his spot at left-back following an impressive showing against Granada on Thursday.

Athletic Bilbao possible starting lineup:
Simon; De Marcos, Nunez, Martinez, Balenziaga; Berenguer, D Garcia, Vencedor, Morcillo; I Williams, R Garcia

Real Madrid possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Odriozola, Militao, Nacho, Gutierrez; Valverde, Casemiro, Modric; Vinicius, Benzema, Rodrygo


SM words green background

We say: Athletic Bilbao 1-2 Real Madrid

Athletic are more than capable of making this a very comfortable match for a Real Madrid side under a lot of pressure, but we just fancy Zidane's side to edge a tight contest and stay firmly in the title race as a result.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com 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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How you voted: Athletic Bilbao vs Real Madrid

Athletic Bilbao
15.1%
Draw
13.8%
Real Madrid
71.1%
159
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Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane pictured on February 14, 2021
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1 38268467254286
2 38259467283984
3 38247785384779
4 38245953332077
5 3817111059382162
6 381710115050061
7 3815131060441658
8 381411135557-253
9 38137184765-1846
10 381113144642446
11 381111163748-1144
12 381111163658-2244
13 381013155053-343
14 38914154657-1141
15 38911182843-1538
16 38911183657-2138
17 38812183455-2136
18 38713183453-1934
19 38516173457-2331
20 38612202952-2330

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