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Athletic Bilbao logo
La Liga | Gameweek 31
Apr 14, 2024 at 5.30pm UK
San Mames Barria
Villarreal logo

Athletic Bilbao
1 - 1

Sancet (66')
Prados (10'), Williams (31'), Berchiche (90+4')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Parejo (90+5' pen.)
Albiol (34'), Comesana (35')
Comesana (46')

Preview: Athletic Bilbao vs. Villarreal - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's La Liga clash between Athletic Bilbao and Villarreal, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Fresh from winning the 2023-24 Copa del Rey title, Athletic Bilbao will resume their La Liga campaign with a home fixture against Villarreal on Sunday evening.

Athletic are currently fifth in the table, two points behind fourth-placed Atletico Madrid, while Villarreal sit 10th, some 11 points behind sixth-placed Real Sociedad in the battle to secure a European position.

Match preview

Athletic Bilbao's Oihan Sancet celebrates scoring against Mallorca on April 6, 2024© Reuters

Athletic needed penalties to overcome Mallorca in last weekend's Copa del Rey final, with the Basque outfit winning the famous competition for the 25th time in their history.

The Lions will now switch their focus back to La Liga and their attempts to secure a top-four finish, with the Basque outfit looking to claim a Champions League spot for the first time since 2013-14.

Ernesto Valverde's side are currently fifth in the division, seven points ahead of sixth-placed Real Sociedad and two points behind fourth-placed Atletico, who also have Champions League football to think about.

Athletic recorded a 2-0 win over Alaves in their last match in front of their own supporters, but they suffered a 2-0 loss to Real Madrid in their last fixture in Spain's top flight at the end of March.

The Basque side have the fifth-best home record in La Liga this season, claiming 36 points from 15 matches, and they will be welcoming a Villarreal outfit that have 19 points to show from their 14 away fixtures.

Villarreal coach Marcelino reacts on March 7, 2024© Reuters

Villarreal, meanwhile, suffered a 2-1 loss to Atletico on April 1, with the result ending a four-game winning run in Spain's top flight, which allowed them to rise up the table.

The Yellow Submarine currently sit 10th in the division, one point behind ninth-placed Osasuna, but they are 11 points from sixth-placed Real Sociedad, so securing European football for next term is highly unlikely.

Marcelino's side have been victorious in three of their last four away league games, remaining unbeaten in the process, with the wins coming against Barcelona, Real Sociedad and Real Betis.

Villarreal suffered a 3-2 defeat to Athletic in the reverse game between the two sides earlier this season, but they did record a 5-1 victory over the Lions towards the end of the 2022-23 campaign.

El Submarino Amarillo finished fifth last season, so there has been a huge drop-off this term, and their attention will already be switching to the 2024-25 campaign, where they will be attempting to challenge for a top-five position once again.

Athletic Bilbao La Liga form:

Athletic Bilbao form (all competitions):

Villarreal La Liga form:

Villarreal form (all competitions):

Team News

Villarreal's Gerard Moreno celebrates scoring their first goal with Alexander Sorloth on November 12, 2023© Reuters

Athletic will be without the services of Inigo Ruiz de Galarreta, with the midfielder picking up a milestone yellow card in the 2-0 defeat to Real Madrid in the league last time out.

Mikel Vesga is therefore expected to come into the side from the Copa del Rey final lineup, while there will be a return between the sticks for number one goalkeeper Unai Simon.

Nico Williams was an injury doubt for the clash with Mallorca, but he came through the entirety of the contest unscathed, and the Spain international will again be in the XI on Sunday.

As for Villarreal, Francis Coquelin, Eric Bailly, Pepe Reina, Ramon Terrats, Juan Foyth and Denis Suarez are unavailable for selection this weekend due to injury issues.

Kiko Femenia will return to the squad, though, with the right-back serving a suspension against Atletico.

Alex Baena is set to feature in central midfield, with Coquelin dropping out, while Gerard Moreno, Goncalo Guedes and Alexander Sorloth should continue in the final third of the field.

Athletic Bilbao possible starting lineup:
Simon; De Marcos, Vivian, Paredes, Yuri; Vesga, Prados; I Williams, Sancet, N Williams; Guruzeta

Villarreal possible starting lineup:
Jorgensen; Femenia, Albiol, Mandi, Cuenca; Capoue, Parejo, Baena; G Moreno, Sorloth, Guedes

SM words green background

We say: Athletic Bilbao 2-1 Villarreal

This has all of the makings of a very interesting match, with Villarreal in strong form, while Athletic are battling to break into the top four. It would not be a surprise to see the points shared on Sunday, but we are expecting the hosts to navigate their way to an important three points at San Mames.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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Today's games header
Tables header RHS
CReal Madrid37297187266194
4Atletico MadridAtletico372341068432573
5Athletic Bilbao371811860372365
6Real Sociedad371612951371460
7Real BetisBetis37141494845356
14Celta Vigo371010174455-1140
15Las PalmasLas Palmas37109183246-1439
16Rayo Vallecano37814152947-1838

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