Athletic Bilbao VS Villarreal, a low-scoring draw

Posted Sun, 21 Feb 2021 09:05:03 GMT        

Match Time:2/22/2021 04:00 Monday  (GMT+8)

Spanish La Liga --  Athletic Bilbao   VS   Villarreal

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Villarreal will be looking to win in La Liga for the first time since January 8 when they travel to San Mames on Sunday evening to take on Athletic Bilbao.  

 

The Yellow Submarine, who beat Red Bull Salzburg 2-0 in the Europa League on Thursday, are currently sixth in Spain's top flight, eight points above 10th-placed Athletic, who have a game in hand.  

 

Match preview  

Athletic will be aiming to make it back-to-back victories in the league, having recorded an impressive 4-0 win away to Cadiz on Monday night, with Alex Berenguer netting a brace for the Basque outfit.  

 

Marcelino's side cannot afford to become distracted in Spain's top flight as they are only five points behind seventh-placed Real Betis and will be eyeing a potential Europa League finish this term.  

 

However, the club will certainly be thinking about the Copa del Rey as they will face Levante in the second leg of their semi-final on March 4, with the tie delicately poised at 1-1 from the first leg.  

 

Athletic will also take on Real Sociedad in the final of the 2020 competition at the start of April, with the match being postponed last year due to the coronavirus outbreak.  

 

Los Leones recorded a 1-0 win over Villarreal when the two teams locked horns in the corresponding match last season, while they held the Yellow Submarine to a 1-1 draw in the reverse game back in December.    

 

Villarreal, as mentioned, will enter Sunday's clash off the back of an impressive 2-0 win over Salzburg in the first leg of their last-32 Europa League clash on Thursday evening.  

 

Paco Alcacer and Fer Nino scored the goals for the Spanish outfit, who are now in an excellent position to book their spot in the last-16 stage of the competition in the reverse fixture.  

 

Villarreal's league form has tailed off, though, having picked up just four points from their last five matches, and they suffered a 2-1 home defeat to Real Betis last weekend.  

 

Unai Emery's side have not actually triumphed in the league since a 4-0 success at Celta Vigo on January 8, with the disappointing run seeing them drop behind Real Sociedad into sixth position in the table.  

 

El Submarino Amarillo are only two points behind Sociedad, though, and have only lost three of their 23 league matches this season, which is the second-best record in the division behind Atletico Madrid (1).  

 

Athletic Bilbao La Liga form: WLWLDW 

Athletic Bilbao form (all competitions): WLWDDW  

Villarreal La Liga form: WDDDDL 

Villarreal form (all competitions): WDLDLW  

 

Team News  

Athletic will be without the services of Unai Nunez and Mikel Vesga this weekend through suspension, with both players picking up yellow cards in the win over Cadiz last time out. 

 

As a result, Inigo Martinez should return in the middle of the defence, while Dani Garcia is expected to replace Vesga.  

 

Peru Nolaskoain is still unavailable through injury, but the Basque side are otherwise in excellent shape, meaning that head coach Marcelino has plenty of options for change.  

 

Oscar de Marcos had been operating on the right of midfield, but Berenguer scored twice in the win over Cadiz and should therefore retain his spot alongside Inaki Williams, Iker Muniain and Raul Garcia in attack.  

 

As for Villarreal, Manu Trigueros is available following a suspension and should start in midfield, but Francis Coquelin, Alberto Moreno, Vicente Iborra and Mario Gaspar are all still injured.  

 

Head coach Emery is expected to stick with the bulk of the side that started in the Europa League on Thursday, with Alcacer, Gerard Moreno and Moi Gomez all operating in attacking positions.  

 

There could be a change at left-back, though, with Alfonso Pedraza replacing Pervis Estupinan, while Sergio Asenjo will also return to the starting XI between the sticks.  

 

Athletic Bilbao possible starting lineup: 

Simon; Capa, Alvarez, Martinez, Berchiche; Berenguer, Lopez, D Garcia, Muniain; R Garcia, Williams  

 

Villarreal possible starting lineup: 

Asenjo; Pena, Albiol, Torres, Pedraza; Parejo, Capoue, Trigueros; G Moreno, Alcacer, M Gomez    

 

Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Villarreal

 

Athletic Bilbao VS Villarreal, a low-scoring draw