Athletic Bilbao aims for their third consecutive victory in all competitions as they face bottom-placed Almeria in Spain’s top flight on Monday evening.
- Athletic Bilbao is currently fifth in the La Liga table with 45 points from 23 matches this season.
- Almeria, on the other hand, sits at the bottom of the division with only 6 points and is 14 points away from safety.
Almeria faces an uphill battle to avoid relegation this season. They have struggled throughout the campaign, managing just six points from their 23 matches. Furthermore, they are yet to secure a single league win.
Almeria currently sits 14 points behind 17th-placed Mallorca and has the worst defensive record in the league, conceding 51 goals so far.
Despite finishing 17th last season, Almeria has struggled in their home matches this term, earning only five points from 11 games. They will now host an Athletic Bilbao side that has the fifth-best away record in the league.
Previous encounters between Almeria and Athletic Bilbao have favored the latter, with Athletic winning the last five La Liga matches, including a 3-0 victory in their previous meeting this season.
In contrast, Athletic Bilbao comes into the match following a 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final. Scoring the only goal, Alex Berenguer set the stage for a potential victory in the return leg later this month.
Athletic Bilbao has had a solid season in La Liga, recording 13 wins, six draws, and four defeats in their 23 matches. Their current position is fifth, just three points behind fourth-placed Atletico Madrid.
While not achieving a fourth-place finish since the 2013-14 campaign, Athletic Bilbao remains in contention for a Champions League spot this season. Additionally, winning the Copa del Rey would make it a highly successful season for the Basque outfit.
Athletic’s strong away form is evident in their 4-0 victory over Mallorca last weekend. With the second-best defensive record on their travels, only behind Real Madrid, Almeria faces a formidable challenge on Monday night.
Almeria La Liga form: LLDLLL
Athletic Bilbao La Liga form: WWWLDW
Athletic Bilbao recent form (all competitions): WLWDWW
Almeria will be without Luis Suarez and Arnau Puigmal due to injuries. Cesar Montes, Ibrahima Kone, and Aleksandar Radovanovic are major doubts for the match.
Leo Baptistao will also be absent after receiving a red card in Almeria’s previous defeat against Valencia.
If Montes is unavailable, Iddrisu Baba is expected to feature in the starting lineup. Anthony Lozano might get a chance to start in place of the suspended Baptistao.
Athletic Bilbao has concerns over the fitness of Nico Williams, who missed the Copa del Rey match against Atletico due to a thigh problem. His availability for this match is uncertain.
Inigo Lekue and Alex Berenguer are definitely ruled out due to injuries. However, Inaki Williams is fit despite a recent foot issue and is expected to start.
If Nico Williams fails to recover in time, Iker Muniain is likely to start in a wide position. Muniain scored as a substitute in the league match against Mallorca last weekend.
Almeria possible starting lineup:
Pubill, Baba, Chumi, Centelles;
Lopy, E Gonzalez;
Arribas, Melero, Ramazani;
Athletic Bilbao possible starting lineup:
De Marcos, Yeray, Paredes, Yuri;
Ruiz de Gallareta, Benat;
I Williams, Sancet, Muniain;
Prediction: Almeria 0-2 Athletic Bilbao
While Almeria showed promise in their recent performance against Valencia, they still suffered a defeat. Now, they face a strong Athletic Bilbao side.
While upsets can happen, it is difficult to envision anything other than a routine victory for the visitors on Monday night.