Having slipped from the European places following the defeat to Espanyol, Athletic Bilbao desperately need a win against Levante in order to keep their European hopes alive. Los Granotes, on the other hand, are close to securing La Liga survival and they arrive to San Mames without any pressure.
Bad timing for a defeat
Joaquin Caparros have really revitalized this team and he managed to turn what were a bottom table side into the team fighting for Europe, but his job will stay unfinished if Bilbao miss out on Europe. Los Leones have done extremely well this season and are still going strong, but last week’s defeat to Espanyol came at a very bad time. Bilbao currently sit in 7th place, and while staying there will ensure them a place in the Europa League qualifying stages, the Basques are eager to catch Atletico Madrid and Sevilla, and finish the season in fifth place. Bilbao now have a great chance to put extra pressure on their rivals as they play host to weak Levante and we all know that Athletic are thoroughly impressive at their Cathedral. Having won all but one home game against bottom table sides, Athletic have got to be considered hot favourites in this clash, especially as Spain international Fernando Llorente returns to the starting line-up.
Apart from Mikael Susaeta, Joaquin Caparros will have full squad to choose from.
Levante already ensured survival
Following the relegation to Segunda in 2008, Levante needed two years to return to the top flight and their main objective upon gaining promotion to La Liga was obviously to stay alive. Los Granotes have started the season slowly and had many problems in the first part of the league campaign, but have shown a massive improvement since the turn of the year, having won 8 out of last 14 games. The impressive run of results saw their point tally rise to 43 and it is now highly unlikely that they will get relegated even if they lose all four remaining games. Levante do seem to have relaxed a bit after ensuring survival, with 4:1 defeat at Vicente Calderon and the goalless draw against Sporting Gijon the perfect proof, which is why I doubt they can fare any better against very motivated Athletic Bilbao. Levante largely struggle on the travels and they are highly unlikely to survive San Mames.
Xavi Torres has resumed training following the spell on the sidelines, but Montero, Felix Juanlu and Sergio remain sidelined.
Athletic Bilbao are a real force to be reckoned with at their San Mames and their big motivation together with superior quality should bring them a much needed victory. Levante have nothing to play for having ensured survival and without several important players they won’t be able to avoid defeat at the Cathedral.
Our prediction: Home win with -1 Asian handicap
Odds: 2.00 (1/1)