Athletic Bilbao have one new absence with Laporte missing to suspension. De Marcos remains out too which raises concerns in their defence, which rarely looks perfectly organised. Etxeita could step in as direct replacement, but it’s probable that Boveda moves from RB to CB and that a more offensive full back, Leuke, steps in. As Athletic look to improve the concerning dynamic of last weekend in Betis where they were stale and predictable in possession, youngster Vesga is tipped to displace San Jose in an unforced switch. Athletic have had a clear week to build up and prepare for this, that rarity should see a strong and focused performance, which spells danger for the opponent. The Basque’s are defending their impressive home record and will be very much set on winning against a local rival. They are bound to be the more ambitious and risking taking of the two teams, but both have goals in them. Neither team would take defeat laying down nor do they neither inspire at the back, so over 2.5 goals looks a good bet.
Celta Vigo are dealing with mixed news ahead of the difficult trip to nearby Basque country. A positive in defence as Captain Hugo Mallo returns from a 4 game league ban which sees Sergi Gomez drop out and Roncaglia move to his preferred CB spot. This leaves them tougher defensively and more significantly, better offensively, which helps because they’re without important winger Orellana. Like Athletic Bilbao, Celta have had to juggle European action with their league games but this is all new to them and it has definitely taken a tougher toll. This team is a shadow of the one from last season in terms of intensity and attacking quality, but injuries haven’t helped. With both sides having a clean week to prepare and Celta one day more, fatigue for once not an issue for either team. Celta Vigo are poor away from home and Athletic are sensationally strong when in front of their fans. Celta will have big away following but only a top performance would seem them get a positive result. Form and statistics all are against Celta who haven’t won in 9 from their last 10 games away. They’d be content with a draw but will have chances to score goals & perhaps get more.
Verdict & Prediction
Athletic’s form is dropping a little, lost 2 from their last 3 games and moved out of the top 6 after a disappointing performance in Seville last week. They see Celta as a direct competitor and rival for their objective of top six, and so this is an important game for them to win. I expect an open game and therefore at least three goals!
Prediction: Over 2.5 goals
Odds: 1.92 Pinnacle
Also, check out our betting prediction for the match between Everton and Liverpool – The Merseyside Derby.