Monday, October 21, 2019

Prediction: Real Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao

Verdict: Over 3.5 goals scored – yes

Best Odds: 7/5

Bookmaker: 888sport

Real Madrid do not have a realistic shot at fighting for the league title anymore, so their best bet will be to clinch a UEFA Champions League spot as soon as possible. With that in mind, Los Merengues will host an Athletic Club side that remains very much alive on the race for a UEFA Europa League spot. This match will kick-off on Sunday at 16:15 hrs BST.

Real Madrid

Los Merengues only register one win in their previous three league matches (W1, D1, L1), but on the other hand they’ve lost just once in their past five Liga matches (W3, D1, L1). For them, it’s all about perspective and trying to end the season on a strong note after failing to win any of the three major trophies they competed for in 2018-19. Zinedine Zidane’s men know winning here could be huge since they only sit four points behind second-placed Atletico Madrid. But for that to happen, they need to continue the three-game winning streak they’re currently riding at Santiago Bernabeu. For that to happen, scoring the first goal could be key since Real Madrid have conquered 27 points out of 30 possible when opening the score at home. Can they continue that trend as they make one final push for a potential Top 2 finish?

Team News

Los Merengues will be missing three regular starters ahead of this match. Thibaut Courtois (thigh), Sergio Ramos (calf) and Vinicius Jr. (shin) have been ruled out due to injury.

Plus, Mariano Diaz has been listed as questionable with a groin problem. And Toni Kroos will be a game-time decision due to a stomach virus.

Athletic Club

If we talk about making a late charge down the stretch, then very few teams have looked better than Athletic Club during the current campaign. They own a W4, L1 mark in their last five Liga matches and, if the season ended today, then they would secure a Europa League berth over an Alaves side that has been among the Top 7 virtually all season long. They’ve accomplished this thanks to their strong home form, because their away results have left a lot to be desired. Starting February, the Basque side has won just two of their last five away outings (W2, L3) and there’s no question they must improve when playing away from home. Plus, history doesn’t help them here. Athletic have lost the second half on 12 of their last 13 top-flight league visits to the Bernabeu. Can they change that negative tendency and pull the upset against Los Merengues? They can certainly compete with them, since the reverse fixture between both sides this season ended with a 1-1 draw.

Team News

Ander Iturraspe is Athletic’s lone confirmed absentee due to a thigh injury.

Yuri Berchiche (shoulder) and Ibai Gómez (ankle) are listed as questionable. Both will be game-time decisions.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Athletic have lost the second half on 12 of their last 13 top-flight league visits to the Bernabeu.
  • The Basque side have been on fire of late, winning four of their last five Liga matches (W4, L1).  They’ve scored at least two goals in each of those wins.
  • The past three H2H meetings between both sides have ended in draws. All three of those matches produced under 2.5 total goals.
  • Real Madrid’s last four Liga matches have ended with both sides scoring. Three of those contests ended with at least three goals scored.
  • Los Merengues are undefeated in their last seven H2H matches against Athletic (W4, D3).

Conclusion

Recent matches between these two sides have not exactly been “goalfests”. However, both sides enter this match with a sense of urgency. Both clubs need the three points.

Therefore, I believe this match will be extremely open. And it will certainly feature at least four goals in total.

Verdict: Over 3.5 goals scored – yes

Best Odds: 7/5

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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