Verdict: Athletic Bilbao win
Best Odds: 8/11
Hoping to extend on their Champions League charge, Athletic Bilbao will travel to the Power Horse Stadium on Monday night when they meet Almeria.
Starting with the hosts, while Almeria might have eventually clung to their La Liga status last season, Gaizka Garitano’s men are enduring a public nightmare this time around. Only continuing to show a string of issues, the Andalusia-based outfit sit rock-bottom of the table and already with one foot in Spain’s second-tier. Last seen getting hit with a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Valencia, La Union have remarkably collected just six points from any of their 23 La Liga appearances this season. Breaking a string of unwanted records on either side of the festive break, Almeria should also be concerned by a woeful record against Monday’s guests. Hit with a routine 3-0 drumming when they travelled to San Mames for their reverse top-flight showdown on October 6th, Garitano’s side have lost all of their previous five meetings against Athletic Bilbao by an aggregate score of 12-2.
Shown a straight red card against Valencia last week, Almeria will be without the services of striker Leo Baptistao on Monday night. Dealing with a long-term ankle injury and not making a single appearance since the start of October, former Lorient starlet Ibrahima One will not feature here.
Likewise, still dealing with a recent foot issue, 26-year-old Luis Suarez remains a major doubt. Bagging a consolation strike against Valencia last week and recording a sixth La Liga goal of the season, ex-Real Madrid youngster Sergio Arribas will have a leading role to play here.
As for the visitors, claiming a Copa del Rey semi-final; advantage as they secured a 1-0 victory away at Atletico Madrid last time out, Athletic Bilbao certainly find the mood in their camp at a red-hot high. With the Lions settling their sights on a famous Champions League ticket in 2024, Ernesto Valverde’s men will be smelling a golden opportunity here. Opening February with a rampant 4-0 victory against Mallorca, the one-time Barcelona boss has seen his squad suffer just a single defeat from any of their previous 19 straight appearances across all competitions. With that stunning purple patch stemming all the way back to October 22nd, Bilbao have also collected some heavyweight scalps. Collecting a 2-1 victory when they travelled to the Power Horse Stadium last season, Valverde’s Champions League dreamers are rightfully tipped as a standout contender when they arrive in Andalusia on Monday night.
Missing their Copa del Rey semi-final trip to Atletico Madrid last week after sustaining a recent muscle injury, Spanish international Nico Williams is once again seen as a major doubt on Monday night. Not making a single La Liga appearance since the end of October, 23-year-old Imanol Albeniz will not travel to Almeria here.
Starting in just one of Bilbao’s last four domestic appearances across all competitions, former Manchester United star Ander Herrera could be handed a full recall. Notching nine La Liga strikes this season, Gorka Suruzeta will spearhead Valverde’s charge.
Key Factors to Consider
- When Almeria and Athletic Bilbao met for their reverse La Liga meeting on October 6th, the Lions claimed a 3-0 victory at San Mames.
- Bilbao have won all of their previous five showdowns against Monday’s hosts by an aggregate score of 12-2.
- Almeria have remarkably collected just six points from any of their 23 La Liga appearances this season.
- Athletic Bilbao have suffered just a single defeat from any of their previous 19 straight appearances across all competitions.
- Valverde’s men have conceded just a single goal in any of their last five contests away from San Mames.
Putting in a stunning display last time out as they secured a 1-0 victory away at Atletico Madrid, Bilbao should be relishing a trip to Andalusia on Monday night. Losing just one of their previous 19 straight appearances across all formats, the Lions will also be excited by a rampant record against Almeria. Along with landing a routine 3-0 romp when they welcomed the runaway relegation contender to San Mames on October 6th, Bilbao have won all of their last five meetings by an aggregate score of 12-2.
Verdict: Athletic Bilbao win
Best Odds: 8/11
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