After winning their last two games in Europa League and Copa del Rey, Athletic are eager to return to winning ways in La Liga as well, with home game against Racing Santander the perfect opportunity for that. Los Verdiblancos boosted their survival hopes with a home win over Villarreal, but they have yet to register a win on the travels.
Bilbao rediscovering their form
Atheltic Bilbao players needed some time to adapt to controversial coach Marcelo Bielsa and that can explain somewhat slower start to the season, but they have since upped their game a great deal, and are now doing well on all fronts. The hectic schedule and Bielsa’s decision not to deploy rotation policy seems to have taken the wind out of their sails, with home defeat to Granada the first setback in last 15 games, but Europa League win over Slovan and Copa del Rey triumph in Oviedo prove that los Leones are slowly returning to the right track. San Mames have long ago become a real fortress and one of the most difficult grounds to play at in La Liga, but Athletic simply made too many slip ups at the Cathedral this season. However, the game against one of the worst travelers in La Liga is a perfect opportunity for los Leones to rediscover their home form and record a win that would see them continue their climb up the La Liga standings.
Fernando Llorente is likely to miss out with a knee problem, meaning that Gaizka Toquero is set to continue as a lone striker.
Three points from seven away games
Racing Santander have spent last few years narrowly escaping relegation to Segunda, but it looks as though they are finally ready to leave the elite division. By failing to properly reinforce the squad over the summer, the club board seems to have signed the death verdict as there is no way that Racing will be able to survive with this squad. Coach Juanjo Gonzalez is doing the best he can with the players he has at his disposal, but that is unlikely to prove enough. The team have started the season in dismal fashion, having gone first ten games without a win, but home wins over Real Betis and Villarreal have seen los Verdiblancos keep their survival hopes alive. However, having brought just three points from seven away games, Racing are highly unlikely to get anything from San Mames, especially with Athletic very motivated to continue the good run of results.
Back-up keeper Mario Fernandez is sidelined with a dislocated finger, whereas important players Francis and Jairo also miss out. Midfielder Kennedy should return after recovering from injury.
Athletic Bilbao are playing great football this season and we can definitely see the progress under Marcelo Bielsa. Los Leones may not have been so impressive at home this season, but they should have no problems rediscovering their home form against struggling Racing.
Our prediction: Athletic with -1.25 Asian handicap
Odds: 1.91 (10/11)