Athletic Bilbao will take on Celta Vigo at Estadio San Mamés in the Spanish La Liga on Friday, 4 December 2020.
This will be their first clash since 19 January when both sides have shared the spoils at the Estadio San Mamés as the game ended in a 1-1 draw.
The Basques come off following a 1-1 draw at Getafe on Sunday – their first draw of the season – while Celta Vigo have finally ended their poor form with a 3-1 home victory over Granada on the same day.
Athletic Bilbao Betting Preview
Gaizka Garitano’s side are 9th in the table but a win here could move them next to fifth-placed Sevilla at least for a while. They finished 11th last season, which was Gaizka Garitano’s first full season in charge, and also managed to qualify for the rescheduled 2019-20 Copa del Rey Final, where they’ll face regional rivals Real Sociedad on 4 April 2021.
The 1-1 stalemate at Getafe was Athletic’s first draw of the season as they previously had a record of 4 wins and 5 defeats in their opening 9 La Liga games.
Following a 1-0 defeat to newly-promoted Cadiz in their first home match of the season, Athletic Bilbao have won the following three games and can boast a three-game winning streak at their San Mamés, including victories over Levante, Sevilla and Real Betis, conceding just once (in the 2-1 win over Sevilla) and scoring eight in the process.
Yuri Berchiche picked up an injury and was substituted early in the second-half against Getafe, so Mikel Balenziaga could once again deputize at left-back.
Raúl García, who scored the equalizer against Celta Vigo in January and also bagged 15 goals over the course of the 2019-20 La Liga campaign, will likely remain on the bench as Asier Villalibre is set to lead the line. The 23-years-old centre-forward Villalibre scored his first goal of the season at Getafe and will be keen to build on his performance.
Youngster Unai Vencedor, who turned 20 last month, has enjoyed his fourth La Liga appearance of the season and his second consecutive start in the Spanish top-flight and the midfielder could once again get the nod over Unai López, who was left out on the bench in the last two games.
In addition to Yuri Berchiche’s injury, Gaizka Garitano will have to name his defensive line without the key centre-back Iñigo Martínez, who picked up his fifth yellow card of the season in the closing minutes against Getafe, and the Spain international will be suspended for the upcoming round.
Iñigo Martínez’s absence would open space for Unai Núñez who’ll start alongside Yeray Álvarez. The 23-years-old Núñez already started in three games this season (1 win and 2 defeats, all between 27 September and 4 October), when Yeray Álvarez was out injured, and he played alongside Iñigo Martínez, so it’s yet to be seen how would the duo of Álvarez and Núñez perform when they’re paired at centre-back.
Celta Vigo Betting Preview
The Galician side are yet to win a game on the road this season, drawing four and losing the other two of their six away games in La Liga.
Moreover, Celta Vigo’s away form hasn’t been particularly impressive as the Galicians have won only two of their 19 away games in La Liga in each of the past two seasons, meaning they have just four wins combined in their last 44 away games in the Spanish top-flight.
Celta Vigo managed to avoid relegation last season, finishing 17th and just a point above the bottom three, but that’s not a performance they’re willing to repeat again so they must drastically improve in the coming weeks in order to avoid another relegation battle.
As a result of their poor run, The Celts have parted ways with Óscar García Junyent as the Spaniard failed to have an impact during his first senior Spanish appointment, having previously led the likes of Maccabi Tel Aviv (twice), Brighton & Hove Albion, Watford, Red Bull Salzburg, AS Saint-Etienne and Olympiacos – all abroad.
However, Óscar García was dismissed last month – before the international break – as his side obviously struggled, winning only one in nine matches.
Under Eduardo Coudet’s leadership (appointed on 12 November), Celta Vigo managed to close an eight game winless run as they mounted a comeback to beat a Europa League-bound Granada side on Sunday.
Veteran Nolito was among the scorers for Celta as he levelled the score last time out, while youngsters Miguel Baeza and Fran Beltrán both came off the bench to score two late goals for Celta Vigo’s 3-1 triumph over Granada.
Iago Aspas was once again Celta’s goalscorer in 2019-20 but the Spain international had his worst (or probably least effective) season since he returned to his boyhood club following an unsuccessful spell with Liverpool in the Premier League, as well as another attempt to leave a mark at Sevilla.
Aspas scored between 19 and 22 goals in three consecutive seasons in La Liga between 2016 and 2019, as he was also named in the La Liga Team of The Season in 2017–18 and 2018–19, and also included in the 23-man squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Having scored five goals in 11 La Liga games this season, Iago Aspas has either scored or assisted in each of his last four appearances and the 33-years-old forward should lead the line for Celta in Bilbao.
Centre-Back Jeison Murillo, left-back Lucas Olaza and defensive midfielder Renato Tapia were all booked during the Granada game and are all one card away from suspension, but the South American trio is available for the trip to Bilbao.
Santi Mina started alongside Iago Aspas on top of Celta Vigo’s 4-1-3-2 formation at Granada and we have all reasons to believe that Eduardo Coudet would opt for the same starting XI on Friday.
Turkey midfielder Okay Yokuslu was sent-off in the final seconds of the match against Granada last time out and is suspended, but he is not a starter anyway.
Meanwhile, experienced goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez, defenders Kevin Vazquez and David Junca, as well as Turkey forward Emre Mor are all recovering from injuries and it’s yet to be seen whether someone of them would be available for selection here.
Possible Starting Lineups of Athletic Bilbao and Celta Vigo
Athletic Bilbao: Unai Simón – Ander Capa, Yeray Álvarez, Unai Núñez, Mikel Balenziaga – Mikel Vesga, Unai Vencedor – Iñaki Williams, Iker Muniain, Álex Berenguer – Asier Villalibre. (4-2-3-1)
Celta Vigo: Rubén Blanco – Hugo Mallo, Jeison Murillo, Néstor Araújo, Lucas Olaza – Renato Tapia – Brais Méndez, Denis Suárez, Nolito – Iago Aspas, Santi Mina. (4-1-3-2)
Spooky Express Betting Prediction
With just a single win in their last 18 away games in La Liga (losing seven of them), the Celts are not a side that are known for their ability to win away from home. However, their only victory over the period was forged exactly in the Basque Country – when Celta won 1-0 at Real Sociedad in June – and this should inspire optimism among the Galicians, particularly when the Basques will be without one of their most influential figures.
Athletic Bilbao, on the other hand, are usually earning the vast majority of their wins at home and are once again favored to win at odds of +126 with BetOnline, while you can get odds of +230 on Celta Vigo.
We observe an absolute parity in their last six La Liga matches – since the start of 2017-18 – with two draws as well as two wins for either side.
All in all, both sides have scored in seven of their last nine meetings and considering their current momentum, it looks likely to expect another one with both teams scoring.
Spooky Express Free Play: Over 2 Goals -129 @ BetOnline for 7/10 Units