Olympique Marseille vs Athletic Bilbao Prediction, Preview & Betting Tips
Two years after meeting in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32, Olympique Marseille and Athletic Bilbao are set for a new acquaintance in this season’s round of 16, with the first round being staged, now as then, by the “Stade Velodrome” at the France’s Mediterranean coast. Both sides are coming after a disappointing weekend in their domestic leagues and the Europa League performance can add some vitality in closing stage of the season, especially to the Basques, who are currently 14th in the Spanish La Liga.
Olympique Marseille, on the other hand, is third in the French Ligue 1 where Rudi Garcia’s men hold five-points lead over the 4th placed Lyon, although they’ve won one point only in the last two rounds.
H2H: Olympique Marseille vs Athletic Bilbao
The sides’ only previous official meetings were in the 2015/16 Europa League Round of 32. The Basques won the first game 0-1 in Marseille with a spectacular Aduriz strike, sealing further promotion after a 1-1 draw in Bilbao. Michy Batshuayi gave some hopes to Marseille with a first-half goal, before Sabin Merino’s late equalizer putting Athletic through.
UEFA Europa League: Olympique Marseille vs Athletic Bilbao – Match Preview
Finishing second behind RB Salzburg in the groups, Marseille overcame Braga 3-1 on aggregate in the round of 32 thanks to a first-leg 3-0 win at home, in which Valere Germain netted a brace. Nevertheless, the classic win in Marseille has been followed by a narrow defeat in Braga that begun a poor run for Les Olympiens. Marseille are winless in four matches (three consecutive defeats and a draw) and have failed to score in three of them, almost four actually, until the late equalizer scored by Florian Thauvin in last weekend’s 1-1 draw vs Nantes. However, two of the defeats came against rivals PSG – once in the league and for the Coupe de France as well.
We won’t be surprised if Rudi García makes some rotations in the starting lineup where he may include Hiroki Sakai, Maxime Lopez, Lucas Ocampos, who all came on as substitutions and gave wings to the poorly performing Marseille against Nantes.
Athletic Bilbao finished on Group J’s top in the autumn. The Basques have also laid the foundation of their round of 32 breakthrough in the first leg, winning 1-3 over Spartak in Moscow, with the two goals scored from the competition’s leading scorer this season Aritz Aduriz (10 goals), before losing the second leg 1-2 at home turf.
Meanwhile, Athletic have lost three of their last five matches in all competitions, including the 2-0 to Sevilla on Saturday afternoon, and have won twice only in the last 11 competitive encounters they have had (5 draws and 4 losses). This places them 14th in the La Liga where Jose Angel Ziganda’s men are 12 points over the relegation zone, so they can calmly focus over the open Europa League front.
Find out the possible starting lineups of Olympique Marseille and Athletic Bilbao, as well as our betting prediction with the highest betting odds available on the chosen market.
UEFA Europa League: Olympique Marseille vs Athletic Bilbao Betting Tips and Prediction
That victory over Marseille two years ago was the only time The Basques have avoided defeat in four previous journeys to France.
Olympique Marseille have won five of their six European home games this season, drawing the other (0-0 vs RB Salzburg). They have scored 13 goals, conceding just three in the period, and their last home loss in Europe was exactly the defeat to Athletic on 18 February 2016.
Athletic Bilbao are unbeaten away from home in Europe this season (3 wins, 3 draws) but the truth is they have sold Aymeric Laporte to Man City in the winter and the new signing Iñigo Martínez is ineligible to feature here, as he already played for his former club Real Sociedad in the same competition. This will inevitably weaken Athletic’s defensive line, which is far from convincing anyway, so we believe Olympique Marseille can benefit and take advantage before the second leg at the “San Mames”.
Our betting experts recommend betting on the home side: Olympique Marseille to win the first UEFA Europa League Round of 16 leg against Athletic Bilbao – 1X2 Betting.
Possible Starting Lineups of Olympique Marseille and Athletic Bilbao
Venue: “Stade Velodrome”, Marseille.
Referee: Jorge Sousa from Portugal.
Olympique Marseille: Steve Mandanda – Jordan Amavi, Rolando, Adil Rami, Hiroki Sakai – Luiz Gustavo, Maxime Lopez – Lucas Ocampos, Morgan Sanson, Florian Thauvin – Valere Germain. (4-2-3-1)
Missing players: Kostas Mitroglou is injured, Gregory Sertic remains questionable.
Athletic Bilbao: Kepa Arrizabalaga – Iñigo Lekue, Xabier Etxeita, Yeray Alvarez, Oscar de Marcos – Beñat Etxebarria, Mikel San Jose – Markel Susaeta, Raul Garcia, Iñaki Williams – Aritz Aduriz. (4-2-3-1)
Missing players: Íñigo Martínez is ineligible, Mikel Balenziaga, Mikel Rico and Iker Muniain are all injured.