The final game at San Mames, a truly historic venue, will see Athletic Bilbao play host to out-of-sorts Levante, with los Leones desperate to win this game and pay the fans back for all the support they have been receiving this season. Los Granotes find themselves in all sorts of problems at the moment, but they will attempt to spoil the party for their more illustrious opponents.
Bielsa’s future in the air
Athletic Bilbao have spent the entire first part of the season struggling to recover from the heartbreak of losing two major finals last term, only showing glimpses of quality every once in a while. Los Leones, nonetheless, showed a lot of character to start winning their games once they found themselves in the danger zone, making sure La Liga survival never came into question. The team have been pretty impressive since the beginning of March, proving they will be back in contention for top table positions next season. Over the last few weeks, Marcelo Bielsa’s side managed to hold mighty Barcelona to a 2-2 draw, while picking up no less than seven points from three matches against relegation-threatened sides, which is a great return considering that even top table sides have struggled to match the motivation of teams fighting for their lives. Los Leones will be eager to continue the great run of results in their last ever match at old San Mames, and it is highly unlikely out-of-form Levante will be able to spoil this glorious occasion.
Andoni Iraola returns to the side from suspension, while Inigo Ruiz de Gallareta has recovered from injury. Inigo Perez and Aymerick Laporte continue to miss out.
Something’s rotten in Levante
Buoyed by the sixth-place finish from last term, Levante began the new season in great fashion, impressing in both La Liga and Europa League. The team kept their results and performances respectable until the end of March, but then everything changed for the worse. Los Granotes not only picked up just 2 points from last 7 games, but were accused of match-fixing following the 4-0 home defeat to Deportivo La Coruna and everything quickly fell apart. The players started turning against each other, so no wonder their performances suffered further. As a result, Juan Ignacio Martinez’s side have been completely unrecognizable over the last couple of months and they arrive at San Mames very low on spirits. With Levante traditionally struggling on the road and missing quite a few first team regulars at the moment, everything suggests another disappointing defeat is on the cards. Everybody at the club is already thinking about major squad overhaul in the summer and the players do seem to be playing for their future at the moment.
Sergio Ballesteros, Juanfran, Pedro Lopez, Christian Lell and Jose Javier Barkero all miss out through various injuries.
In spite of everything thrown their way this season, Athletic are ending the season on a high and a comfortable victory is expected in their last ever match at San Mames. Levante, on the other hand, are all over the place at the moment and they should be happy if they manage to avoid an embarrassing defeat.
Top pick: Athletic/Athletic 2.25 (5/4) @ Stan James
Alternative pick 1: Athletic with -1.5 2.20 (6/5) @ bet365
Alternative pick 2: Athletic to win to nil 2.60 (8/5) @ Ladbrokes
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