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

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's La Liga contest between Valencia and Athletic Bilbao, including team news and predicted lineups.

Valencia and Athletic Bilbao meet at the Mestalla on Wednesday evening with just one point separating the clubs in the La Liga standings.

Sitting in eighth and ninth position respectively, each club is under pressure to get another win on the board as they bid to qualify for next season's Europa League.

Match preview

Valencia boss Albert Celades pictured on November 5, 2019© Reuters

Although Valencia sit just three points behind sixth place, Albert Celades will be aware that he is fighting to keep his job at the Mestalla in the long term.

Just two victories have been recorded from their last 10 matches, and it leaves Los Che with little momentum heading into their closing half-a-dozen outings.

Back-to-back defeats without scoring a goal have been posted on the road against Eibar and Villarreal, results which have realistically left the club out of the running for a Champions League spot.

Nevertheless, club officials will be eager to earn qualification for the Europa League, aware that any financial benefits over the next 12 months could prove crucial if they wish to remain as one of the nation's top clubs.

Despite holding a slender advantage in the table over their next opponents, there is little doubting that Athletic head into this contest as the favourites.

Eight points have been recorded from five games since the resumption, with their only defeat coming at the hands of Barcelona at Camp Nou.

Wins were registered against Real Betis and Mallorca either side of that blip, ensuring that Athletic remain as the form team of the clubs battling it out for sixth.

Although no players are necessarily standing out in the final third, just five goals have been conceded in as many games, an impressive return when also taking into account that they returned to action with a clash against Atletico Madrid.

However, with Real Madrid and Sevilla to follow their clash with Valencia, Gaizka Garitano knows that it is the wrong time to suffer a 10th league defeat of the season.

Valencia La Liga form: DDLWLL

Athletic Bilbao La Liga form: WDDWLW

Team News

Valencia's Rodrigo Moreno celebrates scoring their first goal on September 17, 2019© Reuters

Rodrigo Moreno could potentially drop out of the Valencia starting lineup to accommodate the return of Kevin Gameiro.

Goncalo Guedes is also a likely starter on the left flank, but Jose Gaya is expected to miss out due to injury.

Eliaquim Mangala is back in contention after serving a one-match ban.

Barring any late fitness issues, Garitano is unlikely to make any alterations to his Athletic starting lineup.

Iker Muniain may feel that his place is under threat after a number of ineffective showings in quick succession.

Valencia possible starting lineup:
Cillessen; Florenzi; Paulista, Mangala, Costa; Torres, Kondogbia, Parejo, Guedes; Gameiro, Gomez

Athletic Bilbao possible starting lineup:
Simon; Capa, Alvarez, Martinez, Yuri; Lopez, D.Garcia; Williams, Sancet, Muniain; R.Garcia

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We say: Valencia 1-2 Athletic Bilbao

Despite having home advantage, we make Valencia the underdogs heading into this contest. Athletic are beginning to put together some momentum, and another victory here will leave the teams above them looking over their shoulders.

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Barcelona manager Quique Setien pictured in January 2020
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