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Primera División

  • 9 April 2011
  • • 17:00
  • • Estadio San Mamés, Bilbao
  • Referee: Carlos Clos Gomez
  • • Attendance: 36000
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Athletic Bilbao - Real Madrid Preview: Jose Mourinho’s men aim to keep title hopes alive after falling eight points behind leaders

Athletic Bilbao - Real Madrid Preview: Jose Mourinho’s men aim to keep title hopes alive after falling eight points behind leaders

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Special One lost nine-year unbeaten home record last week, and now he travels to fifth-placed side looking to maintain chance of toppling Barcelona


PROBABLE LINE-UPS
Athletic Bilbao: Iraizoz; Iraola, San Jose, Ekiza, Castillo; Lopez, Martinez, Orbaiz, Gabilondo; Llorente, Toquero.

Cagliari


Real Madrid: Casillas; Ramos, Pepe, Carvalho, Arbeloa; Khedira, Alonso; Ronaldo, Oezil, Di Maria; Adebayor.



DID YOU KNOW?
  • With only three draws all season, Athletic Bilbao have split points on fewer occasions than virtually any other La Liga club. Espanyol and Real Sociedad are the only teams to have tied on fewer occasions.
  • None of these draws have come at San Mames, where they've won 10 of their 15 matches.
  • The Basques look good for a place in the Europa League, lying in fifth, but they have little hope of catching Villarreal, who are nine points clear of them.
  • After keeping three successive clean sheets at the end of January, Athletic have only shut-out their opponents once in the last eight games.
  • Against teams in the top half of the table, they've won five of their 15 matches, losing all of their other 10 games.
  • Real Madrid had enjoyed a run of eight matches undefeated in the league prior to last weekend's surprising reverse against Sporting Gijon.
  • That loss their first failure to win at home all season, and Jose Mourinho's first home defeat in 151 matches - a run stretching back nine years.
  • The Portuguese has made Madrid a formidable defensive unit this term, and only on three occasions have they conceded more than one goal in a solitary league game.
  • In 30 La Liga matches to date, on 15 occasions Real games have produced fewer than three goals, and three times they've been held to scoreless draws.
  • Exactly half the time, Mourinho's men have led at the interval, and in all of these matches they've picked up three points. The only other team to have such a record is Osasuna, who have won all of the six matches they've held the upper hand in at the interval.
  • Indeed, whenever Madrid have gone ahead this season, they've always scooped maximum points.


LAST MEETING


November 20, 2010: Real Madrid 5-1 Athletic Bilbao

In the week before the campaign’s first Clasico, Real Madrid were expected to be severely tested at the Bernabeu by Athletic, but Jose Mourinho’s men made short work of the Basques. First-half goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo were tempered by a 40th minute effort from Fernando Llorente, though the hosts pulled away after the break. Sergio Ramos converted a penalty before Ronaldo completed his hat-trick by scoring a brace in the last half-hour.

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Players to watch

Llorente

Position: Attacker

Games: 0

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Fernando Llorente is a player coveted by many of Europe’s top clubs. A robust and competitive centre forward, the Spanish international is a genuinely world class player who doesn’t turn out for one of Europe’s real giants. He is a striker that would add quality to any club, and he’ll be aiming to enhance his reputation further with a troublesome performance at the weekend.

E. Adebayor

Position: Attacker

Games: 0

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Coming off the back of a two-goal performance against Tottenham in midweek, Emmanuel Adebayor has won over the Madrid fans to some extent, but as the player admitted in the aftermath of that game, he was quick to recognise that several good performances have to be strung together. With Gonzalo Higuain available and Karim Benzema coming back to fitness, now is the time for the Togo star to lobby for a permanent place in Real’s squad.

Editor's Prediction

San Mames is a really tough venue to visit, and an easy success over Athletic earlier this season will count for little come Saturday night. Real Madrid simply have to win to keep their title hopes alive, but having slipped on six of 15 road trips this season, keeping La Liga competitive going into the Clasico is by no means certain. Bilbao's recent form has been poor, and that may just edge this fixture in favour of the visitors.

Last Five Matches

Head To Head

Athletic Club

Real Madrid

Wins
0
1
4
Wins

Betting & Predictions

Reader's Predictions

Athletic Club Bilbao ATH
Athletic Club Bilbao Athletic Club
Draw
Real Madrid Club de Fútbol RMA
Real Madrid Club de Fútbol Real Madrid
78%

Top 3 Predictions

Athletic Club Bilbao ATH
1 - 3
Real Madrid Club de Fútbol RMA
Athletic Club Bilbao ATH
0 - 4
Real Madrid Club de Fútbol RMA
Athletic Club Bilbao ATH
0 - 3
Real Madrid Club de Fútbol RMA

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