Athletic Club will welcome Atletico Madrid to San Mames looking to pick up momentum for the two sides’ La Liga clash on Saturday.

Athletic Club will want to pick up momentum following their 3-2 win over Cadiz last weekend. They had picked just one win from their five matches before the Cadiz victory but will now want to move on from that form and get some wins under their belt as the season enters its business end.

Athletic are currently eighth in La Liga and have been knocked out of every other competition. Thus, a strong finish to the league season is the only thing on Marcelino’s mind. They are yet to face Sevilla and Valencia in the league, and a strong outing against Atletico will boost their confidence for what is to come.

Atletico Madrid, on other hand, are higher up the La Liga table. They are fourth with 63 points but will have the chance to rise up to third as Barcelona only play on Sunday. They also have the opportunity to finish second behind league leaders Real Madrid, who now need just one more point to seal the title.

Atletico Madrid come into the encounter following a 0-0 draw with Granada. The defending La Liga champions dominated the match at the Wanda Metropolitano but could not break a resolute Granada defence.

Their overall form is not too impressive, with just one win in their last five matches across competitions. But Sevilla and Barcelona have stuttered recently too which has allowed Atletico Madrid to stay in contention for a second-place finish.

Team News & Tactics

Athletic Club

Marcelino will continue with two banks of four in defence and midfield, and two strikers up front. He will be forced into a change in the middle of the field, however, as Mikel Vesga was sent off in their win over Cadiz.

Athletic Club will continue to be without Alex Petxa, Oihan Sancet, Asier Villalibre and Inigo Lekue through their respective injuries. Marcelino is not expected to make more than one change to the starting eleven that took the field against Cadiz.

Unai Simon will keep his spot in the goal, with Oscar De Marcos, Daniel Vivian, Inigo Martinez and Mikel Balenziaga forming the four-man backline. In Vesga’s absence, Unai Vencedor will partner Dani Garcia in the midfield, with Nico Williams and Iker Muniain manning either flank.

Raul Garcia, who was on the scoresheet against Cadiz, and Inaki Williams will lead the Athletic Club attack against Atletico Madrid on Saturday.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Simon; De Marcos, Vivian, Martinez, Balenziaga; Nico Williams, Dani Garcia, Vencedor, Muniain; Inaki Williams, Raul Garcia

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Atletico Madrid

Diego Simeone will welcome both Felipe and Geoffrey Kondogbia from their respective suspensions, which will be a big boost going into the encounter at San Mames.

The reigning La Liga champions will also be without a host of players due to injury issues, with Joao Felix, Thomas Lemar, Hector Herrera and Jose Gimenez all set to miss the match.

Stefan Savic will miss the game through suspension, but Simeone has a readymade replacement in the returning Felipe. With the Argentine tactician deploying a 3-5-2, the other two centre-backs, Mario Hermoso and Reinildo will keep their spots in the starting eleven.

Kondogbia will also reclaim his spot in the starting XI, with Javier Serrano possibly missing out. Both wing-backs, Marcos Llorente and Yannick Carrasco, along with Rodrigo De Paul and Koke are also expected to retain their spots in the side.

Simeone could end up playing Luis Suarez alongside Antoine Griezmann in the two-man strike partnership, but we expect him to go ahead with the duo that started against Granada – Angel Correa and Antoine Griezmann.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Oblak; Felipe, Hermoso, Reinildo; Llorente, De Paul, Kondogbia, Koke, Carrasco; Griezmann, Correa

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Key Stats

  • Athletic have lost just one of their last five home league matches, which leaves Atletico with a mountain to climb at San Mames.
  • Atletico Madrid have lost just two of their last 13 matches across competitions. One of the two defeats came against Manchester City in the Premier League.
  • Athletic Club vs Atletico Madrid encounters have failed to produce a goal just once in their last 14 meetings.
  • Four of the last five meetings between the two sides have seen both teams score.
  • The last time Athletic Club failed to score at San Mames against Atletico Madrid was back in 2016 when the Rojiblancos won 1-0.

Player to Watch

Angel Correa

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Angel Correa is Atletico Madrid’s joint top-scorer this season across competitions alongside Luis Suarez, with both of them having scored 12 goals each. But the 27-year-old has hit a barren run of form, failing to score in his last six La Liga matches.

Correa will want to fix that at San Mames and lead Atletico to all three points.

Prediction

Athletic Club 1-1 Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid struggled to get past a resolute Granada side, but Athletic Club at San Mames will be much more enterprising with the ball. This will allow the reigning La Liga champions to get on the scoresheet. But keeping Bilbao’s home form in mind, this one could be a close encounter. Expect both sides to score with the match finishing in a 1-1 stalemate.

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