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La Liga Preview: Athletic Bilbao - Espanyol
Marcelo Bielsa's side could conceivably break into the Champions League places with victory over the Catalan outfit at San Mames
By Karthick Arvinth
Iraola, Martinez, Amorebieta, Aurtenetxe
Susaeta, De Marcos, Muniain
Galan, Rodriguez, Moreno, Didac
Weiss, Verdu, Romaric
Athletic Bilbao have a clean bill of health heading into the fifth-versus-sixth clash against Espanyol on Saturday. Oscar de Marcos is available again, after serving a one-match suspension in last weekend's 3-2 win at Rayo Vallecano.
Espanyol coach Mauricio Pochettino may hand a debut to new signing Kalu Uche, with strikers Walter Pandiani, Sergio Garcia and Alvaro Vasquez all sidelined through injury.
Portuguese forward Rui Fonte (ankle) and midfielder Joan Verdu (flu) are both expected to be fit in time for the trip to Bilbao.
||DID YOU KNOW?|
- Athletic Bilbao could climb to fourth in the league table if they beat Espanyol, provided results elsewhere go their way.
- The Basque club are on a five-game winning streak at San Mames in all competitions, outscoring their opponents 12-1 in those matches.
- Built in 1913, Athletic's San Mames stadium, which is also known by the nickname "The Cathedral", is the oldest stadium in Spain.
- Espanyol have won four of their last six encounters with Athletic Bilbao, although none of those victories came at San Mames.
- The Catalan club have won just one of their last eight away games in all competitions.
- Alvaro Vasquez (pictured) is Espanyol's leading scorer this season with eight goals.
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Top 3 Predictions
Athletic Bilbao 2-0 Espanyol
- 18.42 %
Athletic Bilbao 2-1 Espanyol
- 17.11 %
Athletic Bilbao 3-1 Espanyol
- 13.16 %
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Feb 10, 2013||Athletic Bilbao 0 - Espanyol 4|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Sep 16, 2012||Espanyol 3 - Athletic Bilbao 3|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Feb 4, 2012||Athletic Bilbao 3 - Espanyol 3|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Sep 11, 2011||Espanyol 2 - Athletic Bilbao 1|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||May 2, 2011||Espanyol 2 - Athletic Bilbao 1|
|May 19, 2013||Zaragoza 1 - Athletic Bilbao 2||LIGA|
|May 11, 2013||Athletic Bilbao 2 - Mallorca 1||LIGA|
|May 3, 2013||Celta 1 - Athletic Bilbao 1||LIGA|
|Apr 27, 2013||Athletic Bilbao 2 - FC Barcelona 2||LIGA|
|Apr 21, 2013||Deportivo 1 - Athletic Bilbao 1||LIGA|
|Returns:||Bilbao £17.00||Sign up with bet365 for a free bet up to £200|
|Returns:||Draw £90.00||Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|Returns:||Espanyol £560.00||Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|3||Jon Aurtenetxe Borde||Defender|
|6||Mikel San José Domínguez||Defender|
|10||Óscar De Marcos||Midfielder|
|13||Raúl Fernández Mateos||Goalkeeper|
|18||Juan Daniel Forlín||Defender|
|16||Javier López Rodríguez||Defender|
|-||Juan Ángel Albin||Midfielder|
With five goals in his last two games, the giant forward has hit a rich vein of form and has finally begun to flourish under Bielsa. The 26-year-old is a good bet to extend his goal-scoring streak on Saturday and propel his team toward the Champions League places.
A product of Barcelona's famed La Masia academy, the Catalan playmaker has endeared himself to Espanyol fans with his wide range of passing and ability to open up defences. Pochettino will want the 28-year-old to chip in with more goals to ease the burden on his injury-hit strike force.
Athletic will be in confident mood after their midweek win over Mirandes left them on the verge of a cup final appearance. Espanyol aren't the best of travellers, and with their strike force depleted through injury, could struggle to find the net at San Mames.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed