Monday, September 24, 2018

Prediction: Athletic Bilbao vs Real Madrid

Juan Pablo Aravena in Free Soccer Predictions, La Liga 14 Sep 2018

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Verdict: Real Madrid to score over 2.5 goals – yes

Best Odds: 31/20

Bookmaker: 888sport

Real Madrid sit at the top of the Liga standings with FC Barcelona, as both sides have won their first three matches. Los Merengues have a decent chance to extend that run, but it’s not going to be easy: they will travel to Bilbao to take on an Athletic Bilbao side that has not lost in their first two league matches, and that tends to complicate Real Madrid at San Mames. The game is scheduled to start at 19:45 hrs.

Athletic Bilbao

Athletic Bilbao are one of four undefeated teams in La Liga this season, although it needs to be acknowledged that they have one less game due to the fact their game against Rayo Vallecano got postponed. Still, Athletic have looked quite solid this season. They began the year with a convincing 2-1 win over Leganes, and afterwards they fought to earn a 2-2 draw against Huesca. But not everything that shines is gold, and Bilbao certainly have things to fix. First of all, they have already conceded three goals in two matches against lesser teams, so they might not have what it takes to stop Real Madrid’s impressive attacking line. Plus. this will be their toughest challenge to date, and facing Madrid is a completely different thing than playing against Huesca, to put it as an example. And the potential absences (more on that below) shouldn’t make things easier for Bilbao, either. Will they manage to take something out of this game?

Team News

Lekue has been ruled out of this match due to an ankle injury. In fact, the 25-year-old midfielder is yet to feature for Los Leones this season.

As if that wasn’t enough, two other regular squad members that could end up missing the game are Iago Herrerin (elbow) and Aritz Aduriz (muscular). That could leave Athletic without their starting goalkeeper and without their long-time top scorer.

Real Madrid

Real Madrid are enjoying a great start to the season, and it is safe to say that Julen Lopetegui has started his tenure at Santiago Bernabeu hittng all the right notes.  Los Merengues have adjusted to Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure, and have won their first three Liga matches while netting four goals in two of them. Players such as Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale look rejuvenated without CR7 out there, and there could be a case to say that this Madrid side is certainly more dangerous than last season’s one. Plus, the addition of Thibaut Courtois should solidify things defensively, and there seems to be a bit more balance overall. It is still early in the season and things could not work out as expected. However, the early returns are certainly promising, and Real Madrid have looked excellent thus far. Will they be able to continue their streak at San Mames?

Team News

Julen Lopetegui will have most of the squad available heading into this game.

The lone potential absentee is Jesus Vallejo due to a thigh problem. However, he is only the fourth-best alternative at centre-back. His absence shouldn’t be much of a factor for Los Blancos.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid are two of the teams that have never been relegated from LaLiga.
  • Real Madrid have not conceded more than one goal in any of their last nine league visits to Athletic.
  • Just one of the last 40 league meetings between these sides has finished scoreless.
  • Los Merengues are currently on a 22-game scoring streak in all competitions.
  • Real Madrid have scored over 3.5 goals in two of their first three Liga matches this season. Athletic have scored over 1.5 goals in their first two matches.

Conclusion

Needless to say, Real Madrid have looked impressive so far this season, netting 10 goals in only three matches and always scoring at least two per game. Athletic Bilbao are yet to lose, but they could have several absences ahead of this game. That’s something unfortunate considering the strength of the opposition.

I expect Real Madrid to score over 2.5 goals in this one, contuining the trend of what they have done the past few games.

Verdict: Real Madrid to score over 2.5 goals – yes

Best Odds: 31/20

Bookmaker: 888sport

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Juan Pablo Aravena


A freelance writer and sports analyst with almost five years of experience in the industry before joining SoccerNews, Juan Pablo Aravena is based in Chile and currently contributes to several publications and websites including SoccerNews, 12up, and Sports From The Basement, while also working as a fantasy beat writer for RotoWire, as a database editor for EA Sports, and as a football analyst for SmartOdds and InsideFutbol. His areas of focus are Serie A, Bundesliga, Premier League, LaLiga, and Ligue 1, but he has also written about MLS and South American football in the past.

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