La Liga Clash Preview: Sevilla vs Athletic Club

Introduction

Sevilla FC host the Athletic Club in this mouth-watering fixture of Matchday 34 in La Liga Santander. Sevilla currently sits at 4th in the table with Champions League qualification confirmed. Elsewhere, Athletic Club is currently positioned at 9th after drawing with Valladolid mid-week. With the league coming to the business end, every point is crucial and both teams cannot afford to lose any points at this stage.

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Why should you be watching?

The title race seemed to be one team affair a few weeks back. However, the recent dip in form of Atletico Madrid has spiced up the title race immensely. There is immense pressure on Sevilla as all the other top teams have managed to snatch victories in their respective games. As such, the home side will look to grab all 3 points in this enticing fixture. On the other hand, Athletic Club will look to cause an upset and do a huge favor for all the other contenders of the title. Sevilla is the most in-form side in La Liga presently with 5 back-to-back wins. Athletic Club has been topsy-turvy throughout this season. Since Marcelino has arrived, the team has shown promise but has faltered to capitalize on it. As such, a good result against Sevilla will do wonders for the team.

Build-up

Sevilla FC

Sevilla comes into this match on the back of a comfortable win against Granada. Since their losses against Barcelona in Copa Del Rey and elimination against Dortmund in the Champions League in early March, they have managed to beat the likes of Real Betis, Atletico Madrid, and Real Sociedad. As a result, the hosts are currently unbeaten in the last 8 matches in the league registering 7 wins and 1 draw in the process. Julen Lopetegui has done wonders with this Sevilla side. Every game is a must-win for Sevilla if they are to pose a serious threat to the title challenge.

Sevilla’s Current Form (Last 5 games) – WWWWW

Athletic Club

From losing 2 finals in a fortnight’s time to defeating Atletico Madrid last weekend 2-1 at their home and a disappointing 2-2 draw against Valladolid, it can be said that Athletic Club has lacked consistency in this season so far. Since Marcelino took over in mid-January, the visitors have been impressive in patches. The European spot is still within reach of the away team but that would mean a big performance in the remaining fixtures starting with Sevilla.

Athletic Club’s current form (Last 5 games) – DWDDD

Head to Head

The previous encounter between the two sides resulted in Athletic coming back from behind beating Sevilla 2-1 with 2 goals in the span of the last 15 minutes.

Predicted Lineups

Sevilla

Julen Lopetegui is expected to continue with the same side that beat Granada last weekend. Bono, as usual, will continue between the sticks. Jesus Navas, Jules Kounde, Diego Carlos, and Marcus Acuna will form the backline for the hosts. Fernando is expected to start alongside Rakitic and Joan Jordan. Suso and Ocampos will be seen playing either side of Luke De Jong who will play no. 9 for the home team. En-Nesyri and Papu Gomez will be on the bench but if things do not go well, their services might be required in the later stages of the game.

Line-up

GK: Yassine Bonou (Bono)

DEFENCE: Jesus Navas, Jules Kounde, Diego Carlos, Marcus Acuna

MIDFIELD: Ivan Rakitic, Fernando, Joan Jordan

ATTACK: Suso, Luke De Jong, Lucas Ocampos

Athletic Club

After a frustrating outing against Valladolid, Marcelino will be looking to make some changes to his starting eleven. Unai Simon will start in goal. The back four remains same with De Marcos, Nunez, Inigo Martinez and Balenziaga. Berenguer and Raul Garcia will form the 4 midfielders along with Dani Garcia and Morcillo. Inaki Williams is expected to start with Villalibre with him occupying forward positions. Mikel Vesga and Ibai Gomez will be on the bench and may be required in the second half.

Line-up

GK: Unai Simon

DEFENCE: Oscar De Marcos, Unai Nunez, Inigo Martinez, Marcus Acuna

MIDFIELD: Alejandro Berenguer, Raul Garcia, Dani Garcia, Jon Morcillo

ATTACK: Inaki Williams, Villalibre

Players to Watch Out For

Sevilla

Ivan Rakitic

The No. 10’s return to Sevilla has been really impressive. He has already scored some crucial goals for the home side and they will again be relying on him to create space between the lines and providing through balls for the forward line to chase. A lot will depend on him as he is the one who will potentially decide the pace of the game.

Sevilla

Jules Kounde

One of the best center-back this season in the league. He has been phenomenal for the team and has delivered every time when needed. Apart from his defensive ability, his attacking capability has been what’s most impressive this season. Lopetegui will highly depend on him to stop a threatening-looking Athletic attack.

Athletic Club

Inigo Martinez

The Spanishcenterback has been pivotal for his side. He has been really good defensively and has always been a target from set-pieces as well. He marshals the troop from behind and more often than not, decides the flow of the game. Marcelino will rely on his defensive abilities to halt the forwards of the home side.

Athletic Club

Inaki Williams

The pace Inaki Williams possesses is always a threat for the opposition. He can easily cause havoc playing against an aged Jesus Navas on the left flank. He drifts into free spaces and times his runs perfectly more often than not. His contribution was seen in the last match when he ran free and assisted Raul Garcia for Athletic’s 2nd goal. If he gets on to the act, it will be a daunting task for Sevilla defenders to get ahold of him.

Conclusion

As we move into the last month of La Liga Santander, this match is an absolute treat. You just can’t miss this. The result will have a drastic effect on the title race.

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