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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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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
1IraizozGoalkeeper
-Xabi CastilloDefender
6Mikel San José DomínguezDefender
23Borja EkizaDefender
15Andoni IraolaDefender
18Carlos GurpeguiMidfielder
8Javi MartínezMidfielder
-OrbaizMidfielder
19MuniainStriker
2ToqueroStriker
14Fernando Llorente Striker
13Raúl Fernández MateosGoalkeeper
-Aitor OcioDefender
14SusaetaMidfielder
8IturraspeMidfielder
23Iñigo Díaz De CerioStriker
10Óscar De MarcosMidfielder
-David LópezMidfielder
11Igor GabilondoMidfielder
1Iker CasillasGoalkeeper
17ArbeloaDefender
33Raúl Albiol Defender
14Ezequiel GarayDefender
4Sergio RamosDefender
25Esteban GraneroMidfielder
3PepeDefender
6Lassana DiarraMidfielder
8KakáMidfielder
9Gonzalo HiguaínStriker
22Ángel Di MaríaMidfielder
25Jerzy DudekGoalkeeper
12MarceloDefender
2Ricardo CarvalhoDefender
6Sami KhediraMidfielder
7Cristiano RonaldoStriker
11Mesut ÖzilMidfielder
14Xabi AlonsoMidfielder
10Emmanuel AdebayorStriker
Players to Watch
Fernando Llorente
Fernando Llorente
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 14
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
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.
Emmanuel Adebayor
Emmanuel Adebayor
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 10
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
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.
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.
Editor's Prediction

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