La Liga Clash Preview: Real Madrid v/s Athletic Club

The La Liga is continuing in its usual enchanting fashion and is presenting us with some of the most enticing and thriller matches so far this season. After 13 rounds, RealMadrid sits pretty comfortably atop the table with 33 points followed by Atletico in second on 29. Now Madrid has entered the phase where they have to face some of the heavyweights of Spain. The Los Blancos welcome the Los Leones at the Santiago Bernabeu for a rescheduled La Liga clash that was earlier slated to happen on 16th October but got canceled due to compact international fixtures.

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Madrid, currently the league toppers, would be desperate for a win tonight to consolidate their position at the top. They have always struggled against ATHLETIC in past times and need to avoid any casual mistakes if they’re to win. Ancelotti would definitely want to make his side well prepared ahead of crucial matches against  Sociedad, Inter, and Atletico. This game could well serve as the dress rehearsal of those upcoming crunch fixtures.

Athletic, on the other hand, have not been in the best of their forms and sit eighth on the table. They, though have the potential to upset any other team on their day and Ancelotti should be wary of that. Marcelino would be out to revive the season and as well as snatch a victory from the Spanish champions.

Will Real continue on their victory ride against Athletic too or will the Red and Whites have some other plans?

WHY WATCH OUT FOR

The El Viejo Clasico (The Old Classic) is one of the oldest derbies played in Spain with its first match dating back to 1903 in the final of the first Copa Del Rey. Since then, it remained as the most played fixture in the history of Spanish football, overtaken by El Clasico afterward. Athletic Club, along with Barcelona and Madrid, constitutes those rare three teams to have participated in every edition of LaLiga. So, it is normal to have a huge level of anticipation and excitement surrounding this fixture. And the desperateness of both the teams to win adds more spice to the usual hype.

Certainly, there can be no work in the world that can stop you from watching this mouth-watering clash today. Especially Madrid fans would want to watch this fixture after all the excellent displays at the Bernabeu. If Madrid wins this, they will go to 36 points from 15matches whereas Athletic will catch up with Barca if they win. It remains to be seen which of these two teams gets the better of the other in this evenly matched contest. The winner will definitely get a boost to contest for the remaining matches after winning this battle.

RECENT FORM

REAL MADRID

The Los Blancos are coming onto this match on the back of a sensational 2-1 win against Sevilla on Sunday. It was an all-around performance from Ancelotti’s side who played the game dominantly throughout. Vinicius Junior scored a last gasp stunner to hand Madrid a much-needed win. Earlier, Rafa Mir scored from a superbly placed header into the far corner of the net. Karim Benzema equalized soon after the half-hour mark from a rebound after Militao’s long-range strike slipped out of Bono’s hands. Militao also assisted Vinicius’s goal, capping off a memorable night at the Bernabeu.

Madrid had almost 53% possession of the ball along with having 14 shots towards the opposition goal. No wonder Madrid needs to improve their game in order to win against superior sides. They need to compact their defense even more along with being more creative in the attacking third. They are on a four-match winning streak in the La Liga and would want to make it five vs Athletic. For that, the Whites need to be more resilient in their gameplay and Ancelotti will definitely look after it.

FORM GUIDE – DWWWW (LA LIGA)

WWWWW (ALL COMPETITIONS)

ATHLETIC CLUB

The Los Leones will be traveling to Madrid after playing out a frustrating 2-2 draw against Granada at home. The home side took the lead as early as in the 10th courtesy of a fine strike from Rudi Garcia. But Granada soon turned things in their favor through goals from Machis and Molina, thereby leading at the half-hour mark. Later on, Athletic got saved by an own goal from Maximiano and salvaged a 2-2 draw.

The match was fully dominated by Athletic though, having 63% possession and unleashing 17 shots towards goal. They couldn’t still win the game due to some inferiority and lack of creativity in the final third. Marcelino will seriously have to look upon it if they are to give the big teams a fight. In fact, they are going through a lean-patch with no wins in their last five matches, drawing four and losing one. It will be interesting to see how they fare against a team of Real’s caliber.

Team News

Real Madrid

The Madrid-based outfit doesn’t have too many injury concerns going into today’s match. Only Gareth Bale ( hamstring injury) and Dani Ceballos (ankle injury) will continue to remain on the sidelines. Ancelotti would although be boosted by the return of Valverde, Rodrygo, Hazard, and Mariano Diaz in the squad. There might be some rotations in the starting XI given Madrid is playing matches every 3 days.

Predicted Lineups
Predicted Lineups

ATHLETIC BILBAO

The Basque side will be facing Madrid with some important players missing out due to injury. Star Centre-back Inigo Martinez was sent off in the dying minutes Vs Granada and will sit out of the clash. All of Peru Nolaskoain, Yuri Berchiche, Dani Vivian and Asier Villalibre will be missing the game. Apart from this, there are no injury concerns in the team as of now.

Predicted Lineups
Predicted Lineups

Head-to-Head

The faceoff between Madrid and Bilbao is one of the oldest rivalries of Spain. Out of the total 236 matches contested, Real Madrid has a clear advantage with 117 wins. On the other side, Bilbao has registered 75 wins and 44 games have ended in a stalemate.

In the most recent meeting between the sides, Nacho scored from a diving attempt to hand Madrid a narrow 1-0 win. Bilbao will definitely seek redemption when they play at the Bernabeu tonight. While 10 of Madrid’s 14 LaLiga games have seen 2+ goals, 6 of Bilbao’s last eight games have seen 2 or fewer goals.

Players to watch out for

Real Madrid

Vinicius Junior

  • One of the most consistent player in Madrid squad and Europe with 11 goals and 5 assists in only 17 appearances
  • Superior dribbling, wonderful pace, astonishing workrate and goalcoring proficiency makes him a key player
  • Has a habit of scoring at the Bernabeu and contributing in Madrid’s wins
  • Key playmaker for his side and also helps in defence well by tracking back
Madrid
Madrid

Thibaut Courtois

  • One of the best goalkeepers in the world right now, the best in Spain
  • Saves almost certain goals everyday and prevents Madrid from drowning every single time
  • Whopping 59 saves and 8 clearances in 19 appearances for his team
  • Excellent reflexes and dives complements to his anticipatory and positioning skills.

Athletic Club

Iker Muniain

  • Best player for Athletic Bilbao with 2 goals and 4 assists in 14 appearances 
  • Darting runs down the left flank, awesome crossing and passing abilities are a threat to any defence
  • Likely to trouble Madrid with his defence splitting passes as well as in counter-attacks.
Munianin Simon : Athletic Club
Munianin Simon : Athletic Club

Unai Simon

  • The Spain No.1 is one of the most promising goalkeepers in the world now, having replaced DeGea in the first team.
  • Consistent performances make him a  key player in the squad, often doing match winning saves.
  • Ability to keep out long-range strikes as well as having superior diving capabilities make him one tough to beat.

Conclusion

In all respects, this match is going to be an enchanting and bewitching one in all respects. Real Madrid would be aiming to win this and extend their stay at the top of the table. Athletics also need to win the game in order to stay on the hunt for a top-four finish. Expect a fierce and enthralling encounter to unfold in front of a packed Santiago Bernabeu tonight. 

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