Athletic Bilbao vs Eibar Prediction, Preview, Lineups and Betting Tips
Round 21 of the Spanish La Liga is set to kick-off on Friday night, 26 January 2018, with a Basque derby at the “San Mames Barria” in Bilbao where Athletic takes on Eibar. Guests look for what would be their first ever league victory over Athletic in Bilbao. That would represent one of Eibar’s greatest achievements since they made it into La Liga against all the odds a few seasons ago, but their dream should be a really tough one to accomplish.
Athletic can feel inspired by the four conecutive wins over Eibar and especially by the last two which were at the “Estadio Municipal de Ipurúa”, both 0-1. Their fine winning streak over the regional opposition includes last game from 27 August 2017 which was the first home match of Eibar in current campaign. Experienced striker Aritz Aduriz was the one who scored Athletic’s only goal in the first-half, while midfielder Joan Jordán from Eibar has been sent-off in closing seconds of the game.
LaLiga: Athletic Bilbao vs Eibar 26.01.2018
The Basque giants are unbeaten in the La Liga since early-November when they lost 3-1 to Celta in Vigo. Athletic have 3 wins and 6 draws ever since, occupying the 12th position with 26 points, which places them far from their pre-season ambitions. Furthermore, Athletic have already been eliminated from the Copa del Rey, like their Basque opponents, so if The Lions want to play European football next season they must either improve their La Liga performance or should win the UEFA Europa League, where Athletic will face Spartak Moscow next month.
Eibar will head to Bilbao after two home games in the past two rounds in which José Luis Mendilibar’s men have won one point only. First was the 0-1 defeat to Atletico Madrid that has ended their excellent run of 6 wins and one draw in 7 rounds, climbing up Eibar in top half of the table. However, after losing to Atleti, Eibar slipped against one of the main relegation pretenders Malaga (1-1) last Monday, so Los Armeros will have to show better finishing if they want to get back on track. They currently have two points over Athletic Bilbao (28), placing them on the 8th position having 4 points less to sixth-placed Sevilla.
Team News and Missing Players
Athletic Bilbao’s boss will have to getting used to the new circumstances of not having key defender Aymeric Laporte in the squad. Latest reports suggest that Laporte is set to join Pep Guardola’s Manchester City and this will happen in nearest future. Laporte himself has now informed Athletic president Josu Urrutia that he has decided to sign for City, who have agreed to meet the £57million release clause in his contract. It’s still not clear whether he will play against Eibar on Friday or he will make the Premier League move before that, but at any case Laporte’s mind will already be at the “Etihad Stadium”, so Cuco Ziganda will have to select a different centre-back duo.
Yeray Alvarez is still recovering from his cancer treatment which leaves Ziganda with two typical centre-backs only – youngster Unai Núñez and experienced Xabier Etxeita, who has played only 2 La Liga matches this season.
Mikel Balenziaga is still injured so Enric Saborit will start at the left-back, while Iñigo Lekue will cover the right flank. Goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, right-back Oscar de Marcos and winger Iker Muniain are the other three injuries for the home side.
José Luis Mendilibar is surely pleased with the important absentees of his Basque opposition but Eibar’s boss suffers his own selection headache. Goalkeeper Yoel Rodríguez, Fran Rico and Pedro León are all long-term injuries but latest concerns came after Monday’s clash when the Portuguese defender Paulo Oliveira has been forced out with a muscle injury. He’s now questionable ahead the short 50kms journey to Bilbao and his potential absence can be a huge blow to the away team.
Situation up front has been worsened as well since number 9 Sergi Enrich will be ruled out until March. This leaves José Luis Mendilibar with Kike and Charles, who are both favourites to lead Eibar’s attack in his favourite 4-4-2 formation.
Wingers Bebe and Fabián Orellana both have had a positive impact over Eibar’s attack against Malaga, when they’ve replaced Takashi Inui and Ivan Alejo, respectively. They can be considered as options for both flanks, although we highly doubt José Luis Mendilibar is willing to leave one of his best players (Inui) on the bench.
Athletic Bilbao vs Eibar Prediction and Betting Tips
Contrary to most expectations for a low-scoring game in Bilbao, we believe that all important defensive misses may have a crucial impact over the game and both sides are capable of scoring at least once. Indeed, Athletic are usually solid at home turf and the expectations to play more attacking football are falling over them, which is exactly in Eibar’s taste. The visitors will be pleased to take the ball from their opponents and to hit on counter-attacks, which can be a winning strategy, especially if Laporte does not play here.
It’s difficult to predict the final winner, even though Athletic are considered favourites and they hold a positive balance over Eibar. That’s why our betting prediction goes on the goal scoring markets as we suggest: “Both teams to score & Over 2.5 Goals“. Decent odds and a good chance to observe some goals in the Basque derby on Friday night. Both sides didn’t had any midweek activity so they’ll be fully fresh and willing to score.
Possible Lineups of Athletic Bilbao and Eibar
Venue: “San Mamés Barria”, Bilbao.
Referee: Mario Melero Lopez.
Athletic Bilbao: Iago Herrerín – Enric Saborit, Xabier Etxeita, Unai Núñez, Iñigo Lekue – Ander Iturraspe, Mikel Rico – Sabin Merino, Raúl García, Iñaki Williams – Aritz Aduriz. (4-2-3-1)
SD Eibar: Marko Dmitrovic – José Ángel, Iván Ramis, Anaitz Arbilla, Ander Capa – Takashi Inui, Dani García, Joan Jordán, Fabián Orellana – Kike, Charles. (4-4-2)