Athletic Bilbao finally ended a barren run of results as they beat Almeria away, but los Leones obviously need to continue with strong performances if they are to save this season. Sevilla closed the gap behind leaders Barcelona by producing an amazing comeback against Villarreal and they will fancy their chances of winning at San Mames.
Finally back in business
It is difficult to explain what went wrong for Athletic this season, with los Leones suffering a huge dip in form after pipping Napoli to a place in the Champions League group stages. Even if Ernesto Valverde does not have a big squad at his disposal, busy schedule cannot be considered an excuse given that it is still too early in the season for his players to be feeling the ill-effects of playing too many games in a short period of time. It does appear as though the lack of confidence is the main issue at the moment, although the players will be feeling a bit better having finally ended a nine-match sequence without a win. Athletic did not impress against Almeria, but they somehow managed to record the long-awaited win and now go into the Sevilla clash in much better spirits. Seeing as how the weekend’s triumph will mean little unless los Leones win the home game as well, we can expect the hosts to attack from the off in search of another victory. It will by no means be easy to defeat high-flying los Rojiblancos, but at least we should see an entertaining encounter between two attack-minded sides who are pretty evenly matched despite sitting at opposite ends of the league table.
Jon Aurtenetxe could replace Mikel Balenziaga at left-back, while Carlos Gurpegui is doubtful and Iker Muniain and Aymeric Laporte should start.
Sevilla continue to impress
Together with Valencia, Sevilla have been the biggest surprise package of the season, with Unai Emery’s side sitting level on points with La Liga leaders Barcelona after nine rounds. While suffering a 4-0 loss to reigning champions Atletico Madrid, los Rojiblancos were absolutely brilliant in other eight matches, showing a great deal of quality and character to keep the good run going. It is more than evident that the team are playing with a lot of confidence at the moment and this proved crucial in weekend’s match against Villarreal, where Sevilla recovered well from the shock of conceding a late goal to score two last-gasp goals and record another impressive triumph. As a result, los Rojiblancos will be very confident going into the game at San Mames and they obviously won’t be afraid to attack out-of-sorts Athletic Bilbao. With Kevin Gameiro back and Iago Aspas netting a hat-trick in Copa del Rey, Unai Emery has got plenty of quality options up front, so I really cannot see Sevilla ending the impressive scoring run any time soon.
Vicente Iborra is set to miss between three and four weeks through an ankle problem, while Vitolo and Mariano Barbosa remain on the sidelines.
One morale-boosting victory was everything Athletic Bilbao needed to turn this season around and chances are los Leones will produce another quality performance when facing Sevilla. Meanwhile, los Rojiblancos are scoring goals for fun at the moment and they do seem closer to winning this game.
Top pick: Over 2.5 goals 2.05 (21/20) @ Betfair
Alternative pick 1: Both teams to score 1.75 (3/4) @ TitanBet
Alternative pick 2: Sevilla Draw no bet 2.10 (11/10) @ 888sport