Athletic Bilbao host Real Madrid in the highlight La Liga fixture of the week. Looking for value in the Athletic Bilbao vs. Real Madrid odds? Read on to inform your Athletic Bilbao vs. Real Madrid prediction.
A close look at the Athletic Bilbao vs. Real Madrid odds
The moneyline odds make Real favourites with around a 60%* chance of an away win implied by the odds.
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Time: Saturday September 15 18:45 UTC kickoff
Venue: San Mames
Athletic Bilbao vs Real Madrid Predicted lineups
Athletic Bilbao predicted lineup
4-4-1-1: Unai Simon; De Marcos, Yery Alvarez, Nolaskoain, Yuri; Susaeta, Dani Garcia, Unai Lopez, Muniain; Inaki Williams; Aduriz
Inigo Martinez and Aritz Aduriz may be restored to the lineup after recovering from injuries over the international break. Iker Muniain has played in a central midfield role in recent weeks but could move be moved wide to accommodate a more defensive duo. Likewise Raul Garcia offers a more pragmatic alternative to Marketl Susaeta.
Real Madrid predicted lineup
4-3-3: Courtois; Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Marcelo; Casemiro, Modric, Kroos; Asensio, Benzema, Bale
Isco offers an alternative to the front six after being dropped against Leganes. Thibout Courtois faces competition from Keylor Navas for the goalkeeper position.
Inform your Athletic Bilbao vs. Real Madrid prediction
With three wins, ten goals scored and only two conceded for Real Madrid so far this season, it’s been a confident start to Julen Lopetegui’s reign.
Under their new coach Real have continued the transition towards a high possession play style. This season Real Madrid lead the possession statistics with 69.1%, a noticeable increase from the 57.8% share of the ball Real enjoyed last season.
Real Madrid have entered this new era strongly but are arguably yet to face a high-caliber opponent. An away trip to Bilbao could present the first significant challenge for Lopetegui’s team.
In addition to the potential return of Aritz Aduriz, Bilbao will be boosted by their home field advantage.
Saturday’s hosts may have endured a disappointing campaign last season, finishing in a lowly 16th position, however the 44 points they won were far below their expected points total calculated using expected goals.
The Basque side conceded the seventh lowest number of goals in La Liga last season (just five more than Real) so defensively they performed as expected.
In attack their underlying numbers were solid. However, the key issue at play here was finishing. Bilbao scored just 41 goals from chances totaling to around 52 expected goals.
This inefficiency in front of goal likely cost them a solid mid-table position. The drop in attacking efficiency was caused in part by veteran forward Artiz Aduriz finally beginning to decline. Athletic’s unique transfer policy makes it difficult to replace the talented forward.
The Basque side won just 1.37 points per game in their home stadium during the 2017/18 season.
Winger Inaki Williams often deputizes for Aduriz when the striker needs to be rested, however he was one of the main culprits behind Bilbao’s poor finishing last season. The Spanish international, 13 years Aduriz’s junior, ended the campaign with a goals total of just seven from over ten expected goals.
Aduriz has had the international break to recover from his opening day injury so may be in line to start against Real. His return would be a big boost to Bilbao’s prospects in this fixture.
In addition to the potential return of Aduriz, Bilbao will be boosted by their home field advantage. The Basque side are thought to be a tough opponent for even La Liga’s best sides in their home stadium.
Real have conceded a league leading average of just 0.45 expected goals against in their opening fixtures.
However, this did not prove to be true last season. The Basque side won just 1.37 points per game in their home stadium. Only the three relegated clubs recorded a lower points per game with home advantage.
How tough a test this is for Real is dependent on if Athletic can recover their home form from the campaigns prior to that disappointing season. They won points at a rate of 2.26ppg at the San Mames during the 2016/17 season whilst their average home points won per game stands at a solid 1.8 over the past five seasons.
Athletic Bilbao vs. Real Madrid: Where is the value?
Looking at the statistics, Bilbao’s difficult 17/18 season is more likely to be a blip than a trend, especially considering their severe underperformance in attack. Any regression to the mean would see them finishing in the mid-table position more befitting their quality so bettors should be wary of underestimating the home side.
Athletic Bilbao are available at 1.581* on the +1.5 handicap which could provide value if they can rediscover their home form and finishing touch in front of goal.
Both of these sides have been relatively sturdy in defence so far, albeit over a very small sample size. Real have conceded a league leading average of just 0.45 expected goals against in their opening fixtures. Bilbao, despite conceding three goals in their two matches, have conceded the next lowest total of 0.68 expected goals against per game.
Even during their poor 17/18 campaign Bilbao still had one of La Liga’s better defensive records and are setup to withstand Real’s new, more patient style. If they can be resilient under pressure then under 3.5 goals to be scored in the game could be a sensible selection at 1.862*.
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