Athletic Bilbao VS Celta Vigo Prediction
Last fixture from the 2016 Spanish La Liga schedule meets teams of Athletic Bilbao and Celta Vigo, both heading to their 17th game part of the 2016-17 La Liga season, which will take place at the “San Mamés” on Monday night, 19 December 2016. Athletic and Celta are two of the clubs which need to show more consistency if they want to improve, but so far home matches are their main source of points, while playing on the road seems to be a real struggle for either. After 15 games in the Spanish La Liga, we find Athletic Bilbao and Celta within a just two points in favour of the hosts – “Los Leones” are with 23 against 21 for “Célticos”, but there are five other sides occupying various positions between them (before all games on Sunday).
Athletic Bilbao vs Celta Vigo – Team News and Match Preview
Athletic Bilbao and Celta Vigo were respectively 5th and 6th at the end of the 2015-16 La Liga season, which rewarded them with European football and they are taking advantage of it. Indeed, Athletic and Celta are two of the Spanish La Liga representatives in the 2016-17 UEFA Europa League, where they have both qualified to the Round of 32. Athletic Bilbao reached the knockout phase as a Group F runner-up, while Celta were on the second position in Group G, so both teams will renew their European campaign in mid-February (Athletic will play vs APOEL Nicosia, Celta against Shakhtar Donetsk) and they have enough time to focus upon all upcoming domestic commitments.
In current situation “Lions” from Bilbao are one idea closer to their last season positioning, but however, six-points gap from Real Sociedad and presence of Atletico Madrid between them is a very serious challenge. Ernesto Valverde’s men are brilliant at their “San Mamés” and except losing from Barcelona (0-1) in their first home game, Athletic Bilbao can boast with eight wins and a draw in following nine matches there. Five of the victories were accomplished in the La Liga and a disappointing 1-1 draw vs Osasuna as well, which means Athletic have won 16 out of 23 points at home.
Celta Vigo can be found in second half of the La Liga table and Eduardo Berizzo’s side also shows much better performances at its own “Estadio Municipal de Balaídos” – winning 15 out of overall 21 points. After 9 matches without losing at home, Celta finally lost in Vigo when Sevilla won 0-3 last Sunday, after a hat-trick of midfielder Vicente Iborra. This has also ended Celta’s unbeaten run of five games in all competitions and “Célticos” will be keen to avoid losing in second successive La Liga round.
Athletic Bilbao vs Celta Vigo – Betting Prediction and Possible Lineups
Apparently Athletic must contribute better to its general development and start winning more games away from home, but first of all we must note their current schedule includes three consecutive home matches. This opens a wonderful opportunity for Ernesto Valverde and his players, who have one more home match until Christmas, when on Thursday evening Athletic takes on Racing Santander (3rd in Segunda B – Group 1) for a second leg in the Copa del Rey 1/16 finals. Nevertheless, after a brace by Raúl García and 2-1 victory at the “Campos de Sport de El Sardinero” in Santander, Athletic holds a strong lead before second leg in Bilbao and “Los Leones” can be entirely dedicated to their last La Liga clash in 2016.
Unfortunately, Ernesto Valverde will hope to get his squad back on track after two unsuccessful away games (1-1 draw vs Rapid Vienna and a 0-1 loss from Real Betis), but Athletic’s boss cannot rely to one of his first-team defenders Aymeric Laporte. The 22-years-old hot prospect of Spanish football has been booked for the fifth time during last weekend’s defeat at the “Estadio Benito Villamarín” in Sevilla, so he’ll serve a suspension.
Except Laporte’s yellow card accumulation, Athletic Bilbao remains without injured Oscar de Marcos and Ager Aketxe, but suspension of Aymeric Laporte is the main concern for Ernesto Valverde and he’ll probably use Eneko Bóveda as a centre-back next to Yeray Álvarez, which will give a chance of Iñigo Lekue to start on the right-back.
On all other positions rotations are not likely and Athletic’s attacking quartet will be led by Iñaki Williams and Iker Muniain through both wings, Raúl García from second position, while veteran and top scorer Aritz Aduriz will once again play on top of the 4-2-3-1 formation.
Celta de Vigo will cover a 700 km distance to Bilbao without injured trio Carles Planas, Claudio Beauvue and Fabian Orellana, but good news are right-back Hugo Mallo has served its four-match suspension and he’ll return in the squad. Presence of Mallo will move Facundo Roncaglia at the centre of Celta’s defense, where he’ll probably start alongside Gustavo Cabral, while Sergi Gómez is the one expected to drop out of the squad.
Other changes compared with the squad used against Sevilla last weekend are expected up front, where like we mentioned Chilean winger Fabian Orellana is injured, as well as Pione Sisto, whose activity wasn’t on the required level. Daniel Wass and Theo Bongonda are the two possible replacements if that prediction happens and they’ll have to provide enough support to the top goal scorer Iago Aspas, who’ll undoubtedly be on top of Celta Vigo’s attack.
Exactly like Athletic Bilbao, Celta have one more match before a short break and that is their home Copa del Rey fixture against UCAM Murcia on Thursday night. However, “The Sky Blues” won first leg in Murcia 0-1, so their entire focus falls on current La Liga perspective and willingness to thrive under Eduardo Berizzo’s management.
Final conclusion, Betting Odds and Prediction
Athletic Bilbao can pull some extra inspiration from its winning streak against Celta – three victories in a row. Two of them were in Vigo and last one was a 2-1 success at the “San Mames” on 1 May 2016 – making a full comeback by goals of Aritz Aduriz and Raúl García.
Few months later Athletic Bilbao’s interest is towards fourth consecutive win against Celta Vigo, which is our betting prediction for Monday’s La Liga round. For higher odds we recommend betting on Athletic Bilbao with the Asian Handicap -0.5 on their side. Their strong home performances have been crucial through the years and “Los Leones” will have to defend their reputation once again.
Venue: “San Mamés Barria”, Bilbao.
Referee: David Fernández Borbalán.
Possible starting lineups of Athletic Bilbao and Celta Vigo
Athletic Bilbao: Kepa Arrizabalaga – Iñigo Lekue, Eneko Bóveda, Yeray Álvarez, Mikel Balenziaga – Mikel San Jose, Beñat Etxebarria – Iñaki Williams, Raúl García, Iker Muniain – Aritz Aduriz. (4-2-3-1)
Real Club Celta de Vigo: Rubén Blanco – Hugo Mallo, Facundo Roncaglia, Gustavo Cabral, Jonny Castro – Nemanja Radoja, Marcelo Díaz – Daniel Wass, Pablo Hernandez, Theo Bongonda – Iago Aspas. (4-2-3-1)