Athletic Bilbao v Villarreal – San Mames Stadium at 19:45 live on Sky Sports 5
Well, it’s been a while since I done my last Asian Handicap Betting pick for a La Liga encounter, and this time around it will be a thriller of a match as Athletic Bilbao host Villarreal on Sunday evening at the San Mames Stadium.
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The hosts have a solid record at home remaining six games unbeaten in all competitions, while sitting seventh in La Liga, but from their last five they have only won one. Ernesto Valverde’s last match finishing in a bore draw away to Espanyol, I mean 0-0 may have been not the most thrilling result, but an important point to say the least.
Like Villarreal, Bilbao are playing in the Europa League and it would be safe to say it hasn’t been easy. Los Leones sits second in their group and remain one point off top spot and off the bottom of the table. How tight is that?!
Yet, one player I am looking forward to seeing on the weekend will be striker Aritz Aduriz. The Spanish attacker has been in sensational form considering he is reaching the near end of his career; netting five goals in nine games so far this season, as well as scoring 20 last campaign and going to Euro 2016 with Spain. He is a classic fox in the box having scored two goals against Villarreal last season in four games.
One concern is that four players sit out injured for the home side, while defender Mikel Balenziaga is suspended for this clash on the weekend. Valverde also likes to stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation, so expect no surprises there on Sunday.
Villarreal fans will be beaming at the moment considering they sit third in La Liga and only five points off the top spot. Right about now it’s just about keeping up the pressure and not letting this slip from their grasps. Fran Escriba will be hoping for better from his team though considering they have only won two of their last five matches in all competitions.
The visitors’ last match ending in a 2-0 win at home to Real Betis; Roberto Soriano scoring the second to secure the win and continue their good home form.
However, a massive concern for the away side has been their form on the road. The Yellow Submarine has not won a match from their last five away fixtures in all competitions, and have only won two so far this season. So this is a big problem for Escriba at the moment.
But you look at their squad, especially strike-force, and you wonder how? It is a similar squad to the ones who made the Europa League semi-finals last year with Cedric Bakambu, but on top of this they have added Alexandre Pato the team as well as midfielder Soriano who is already paying back the chunk in his transfer fee hitting up an average rating of 7.04.
Strangely it seems Villarreal like to set-up with a flat 4-4-2, which seems to be a dying art in the modern game. But I just wonder whether they will get overrun in the midfield as only three players sit out injured including striker Roberto Soldado.
The last time these two sides met in Basque Country the game finished 0-0, and before that Bilbao won 1-0 away from home. In fact, Villarreal has not won in Bilbao since 2011; losing three of their last five meetings. So it really doesn’t help their cause considering their away form this season has been below average.
This is a difficult one to call. I can honestly see it ending in a draw because both teams will be tight at the back wanting to keep up their good run. Especially with where they are sitting in the table. Yet, I can see Athletic pipping in and grabbing a result, especially with Aduriz up top. But my instinct is telling me to back unders!
Asian Handicap Betting recommendation: Under 2.25 goals @ 1.87 with Eastbridge Sports Betting Brokerage
Prices correct at time of writing.