MX23RW : Saturday, July 31 13:30:58| >> :120:81499:81499:
Dec 22, 2020 at 9pm UK at Estadio El Madrigal
VillarrealVillarreal
1-1
Athletic BilbaoAthletic Bilbao
Pino (74')
Moreno (36')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Williams (19')
Berenguer (71')

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

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

Villarreal will be looking to make it back-to-back victories in Spain's top flight when they welcome Athletic Bilbao to Estadio de la Ceramica on Tuesday night.

The Yellow Submarine will enter the match off the back of a 3-1 win at Osasuna on Saturday, while Athletic recorded a 2-0 victory over Huesca on Friday to rise into the top half of the table.


Match preview

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

Unbeaten in La Liga since the end of September, Villarreal will enter Tuesday's contest off the back of a 3-1 victory at Osasuna; Unai Emery's side arrived in Pamplona off the back of four straight draws but managed to return to winning ways against the team currently bottom of the division.

A record of six wins, seven draws and one defeat has seen the Yellow Submarine collect 25 points, which has left them in fourth position in the table, just one point behind second-placed Real Sociedad with a game in hand over the Basque club.

Villarreal managed to book their spot in the second round of the Copa del Rey courtesy of a 6-0 victory at Leiva last week, while they have progressed to the last-32 stage of the Europa League and will take on Austrian giants Red Bull Salzburg in a two-legged affair towards the end of February.

Emery's side will certainly be looking to claim a top-four spot in La Liga this season, but they will need to improve their output in the final third if they are to finish in the Champions League positions, having scored just 19 times in their 14 matches.

Villarreal have actually not beaten Athletic in the league since September 2018, and they suffered a 1-0 defeat to the Basque club when the two teams last locked horns in March.

Athletic Bilbao head coach Gaizka Garitano pictured in March 2020© Reuters

Athletic have struggled for consistency this season, but Gaizka Garitano's side managed to move into the top half of the table courtesy of a 2-0 home victory over Huesca on Friday night.

The win was the Basque club's first in the league for almost a month, and they have now picked up 17 points from their 14 matches courtesy of five wins and two defeats.

Athletic have two tough games to finish the year as they travel to Villarreal before hosting Real Sociedad, and it would certainly go down as a successful start to the campaign if they managed to enter 2021 in the top half.

Garitano's side finished 11th in La Liga last term, but they claimed seventh, fifth and seventh between 2014 and 2017 and last played in the Europa League during the 2017-18 season.

Villarreal La Liga form: WDDDDW
Villarreal form (all competitions): DWDDWW

Athletic Bilbao La Liga form: WDLDLW
Athletic Bilbao form (all competitions): WDLDLW


Team News

Villarreal's Carlos Bacca celebrates scoring against Maccabi Tel Aviv on November 5, 2020© Reuters

Villarreal will have Alfonso Pedraza available following a one-game suspension, but Francis Coquelin, Vicente Iborra, Paco Alcacer and Alberto Moreno are still on the sidelines for the Yellow Submarine.

Carlos Bacca remains a doubt, meanwhile, meaning that it could be a similar side to the one that took to the field against Osasuna on Saturday.

Moi Gomez is in line to feature in a midfield position, but Fer Nino should keep his spot in the final third of the field alongside Gerard Moreno, who netted a brace against the league's basement side.

Jaume Costa could also come in for Pervis Estupinan, who is a doubt due to the issue that he picked up in the first half of Saturday's clash.

As for Athletic, Peru Nolaskoain remains on the sidelines through injury, but Raul Garcia and Yeray Alvarez are available, having served one-match suspensions against Huesca.

Yeray should return to the back four, but Garcia could start on the bench, with Asier Villalibre potentially leading an attack which should also include Iker Muniain, Inaki Williams and Alex Berenguer.

Oscar de Marcos and Unai Lopez are options for change, but Ander Capa should keep his spot at right-back while Mikel Vesga is expected to retain his position in the middle of the park.

Villarreal possible starting lineup:
Asenjo; Gaspar, Albiol, Torres, Costa; Trigueros, M Gomez, Parejo; G Moreno, Nino, Pedraza

Athletic Bilbao possible starting lineup:
Simon; Capa, Yeray, Martinez, Yuri; D Garcia, Vesga; Williams, Muniain, Berenguer; Villalibre


SM words green background

We say: Villarreal 2-1 Athletic Bilbao

This has all of the makings of a very interesting game of football, with both sides entering the match off the back of positive results. Athletic are capable of making it a difficult 90 minutes for the Yellow Submarine, but we just fancy the home side to edge a tight contest.


Top betting 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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Saturday's key events


TRIATHLON
· After silvers in both the men's and women's events, Team GB will be fancied to get on the podium again in the mixed relay (11.30pm-1am)

SWIMMING
· Touted as Michael Phelps's successor, Caeleb Dressel already has two gold medals from these Games and he will be going for a third in the men's 50m butterfly final (2.30am)
· It is Katie Ledecky vs. Ariarne Titmus III in the women's 800m freestyle final, with Ledecky entering as firm favourite (2.46am)
· Great Britain will be heavily fancied to add another gold medal to their swimming haul, having produced by far the fastest qualifying time for the mixed 4x100m medley relay final (3.43am)

ATHLETICS
· Dina Asher-Smith is one of three British women in the 100m semi-finals (3.01am-3.20am), and will hope to challenge for a medal in what is likely to be a star-studded final (1.50pm)
· The inaugural Olympic 4x400m mixed relay event concludes with Great Britain one of the eight finalists going for gold (1.35pm)

RUGBY SEVENS
· Team GB's dreams of an unlikely gold are still alive in the women's event as they face France in their semi-final (3.30am). The winners will face either New Zealand or Fiji in the gold medal match later in the day (10am)

SAILING
· Gold medals are up for grabs in the windsurfer - RS:X finals. Emma Wilson participates for Team GB in the women's final (6.33am), while Tom Squires is in action in the men's (7.33am)

TENNIS
· Following his shock semi-final defeat, ending his hopes of a Golden Slam in 2021, Novak Djokovic battles for bronze against Pablo Carreno Busta (7am)
· The women's singles event reaches its conclusion with the gold medal match between Belinda Bencic and Marketa Vondrousova

> Today's schedule in full
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