Curtain drops on Sunday’s La Liga match programme with Real Madrid welcoming Athletic Bilbao as both sides return from international action at Santiago Bernabeu.
Los Blancos managed to bounce back from four consecutive draws with back-to-back compelling wins over Real Betis and Legia last time out, scoring 11 goals in two matches to send a clear message of intent at the delicate moment in season which saw manager Zinedine Zidane feel great pressure over the last couple of weeks. Frenchman’s side has well and truly bounced back from their most recent slump and will be keen to extend their positive run on Sunday. Real Madrid are sitting second in La Liga table and will be looking to close the gap behind Atletico Madrid at the top. Zinedine Zidane will at the same time be willing to sort out the lack of balance in his squad influenced by a number of injuries to his key men. Real Madrid manager is relying on the intensity to compensate for certain unbalances in the team and will be looking for another strong against well-organised side Athletic Bilbao.
Croatian midfielder Luka Modric is ruled out with a knee injury, while Real Madrid are also without captain Sergio Ramos, who is suffering from the same problem. Casemiro’s ankle injury will keep him out of contention as well.
Bilbao battling tradition
Athletic Bilbao have a long-standing negative record at Real Madrid dating all the way back to 2000 which saw them lose 18 of their last 20 visits to Santiago Bernabeu. The terrible record is enough to suggest the Basque side will have a mountain to climb on Sunday against Los Blancos despite the fact Bilbao are far from being pushovers in the league. The Basque side have had a good start to the season and have also won five of the last six matches in La Liga. Bilbao have been rather sharp in front of goal with Aritz Aduritz netting five goals so far in the league and they will be looking to upset Real Madrid in their fight against tradition. Ernesto Valverde’s men will be looking to bounce back from their latest set-back in the UEFA Europa League which saw them lose 2-0 at Genk. Trip to Santiago Bernabeu is a great chance to get back to winning ways and put an end to a 16-year long losing run in Madrid.
Arrizabalaga, de Marcos and Aketxe are all ruled out through injuries, while Balenziaga is serving a red card suspension and will not be able to help his teammates on this tricky trip to Madrid.
Real Madrid have managed to recover from their most recent slip-ups with 11 goals in just two matches and will be keen to extend their run when they welcome Athletic Bilbao. The Basque side have won only two of their last 20 matches at Santiago Bernabeu and are up for a difficult task against motivated Los Blancos.
Top pick: Real Madrid/Real Madrid 1.75 (3/4) @Coral
Alternative pick 1: Both teams to score – yes 1.70 (7/10) @Bet365
Alternative pick 2: Aduritz to score anytime 3.50 (5/2) @BetFair