Real Madrid are looking to extend their advantage over Barcelona when they head to San Mames to play Athletic Bilbao on Sunday. If all goes to plan this week, Los Blancos could open up a seven-point lead over their title rivals with a win here.
Where and when: San Mames – 5 July, kick-off 13:00
Where you can see Athletic Bilbao vs. Real Madrid: Premier Sports
Last time: Neither side could make the breakthrough as the teams drew 0-0 at the Bernabeu a few days before Christmas.
Athletic Bilbao v Real Madrid Predictions and Preview
Real Madrid have held the upper hand over Athletic Bilbao in recent seasons, and another victory here could potentially see them strike a knockout blow to Barcelona in the La Liga title race. The home team still have European football in their sights though, and won’t be a pushover on Sunday afternoon.
Los Blancos are unbeaten in their last nine games against Bilbao, winning five. Two of those victories have come at San Memes, although the last two meetings between the clubs on this ground have finished all square. However, with the title within their grasp, this game means a lot more to Real than those other ones.
It seemed highly unlikely that Zinedine Zidane’s side would find themselves in this position in the early stages of the season, or indeed just before the break when they fell to four defeats in seven games in all competitions. However, the extra time on the training pitch, coupled with Barcelona’s recent implosion, has paid dividends for the capital club.
|Our Eurotips||Odds||Free bets||Bookie|
Real Madrid to win to nil
Real Madrid to win 3-0
Hazard to score first
Madrid prepared for Thursday’s home game against Getafe with five straight victories since returning to action in mid-June, giving themselves the chance to move seven points clear of second-placed Barcelona before the Catalans make up a game in hand away to Villarreal later on Sunday. Managing to do so would put Barca under huge pressure, which could lead to even more cracks appearing at the Nou Camp club.
Bilbao will look to put a dent in their visitors’ title hopes though, and they’ve been okay since La Liga returned to our screens. Their only defeat was a narrow 1-0 loss to Barca, while a pair of victories over Mallorca and Real Betis sandwiched that result, after they’d returned to action with back-to-back draws against Atletico Madrid and Eibar.
The Basque outfit almost have a blemish-free injury list, with midfielder Benat Etxebarria the only player unavailable to head coach Gaizka Garitano. Zidane, meanwhile, will be without forwards Lucas Vazquez and Luka Jovic, while defender Nacho Fernandez is also doubtful.
Even without that trio, Madrid have the quality and strength in depth to pick up what could prove to be a massive three points in this game. They are the odds-on favourites for the win at 4/6, while Bilbao are 5/1 and the draw is priced at 16/5.
One to watch for Athletic Bilbao: Raul Garcia has found the back of the net 11 times in 30 La Liga appearances so far this season. He is Bilbao’s top scorer and 8/1 to break the deadlock in Sunday’s early kick-off.
One to watch for Real Madrid: Eden Hazard looks like he’s beginning to find his feet in Madrid after struggling with form and fitness for the majority of his first campaign at Real. He needs to start scoring goals though, and is 5/1 to do so with the opener here.
Long shot: Madrid have been excellent at both ends of the pitch since they returned to action following the league’s three-month break. They beat Bilbao 3-0 when the teams met at the Bernabeu last season, and are 12/1 to match that scoreline in this game. With Hazard scoring first, those odds rise to 70/1.