Athletic Bilbao - Real Madrid Preview: Los Blancos on brink of 32nd La Liga title
Jose Mourinho's side can clinch the Primera Division crown with victory in the hostile surroundings of San Mames, regardless of Barcelona's result against Malaga
By Karthick Arvinth
Iraola, Martinez, Amorebieta, Aurtenetxe
Perez, De Marcos
Susaeta, Muniain, Ibai
Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos, Coentrao
Callejon, Ozil, Ronaldo
Athletic Bilbao boss Marcelo Bielsa is set to field his strongest possible XI for Wednesday's visit of Real Madrid, with Javi Martinez, Iker Muniain, Markel Susaeta and Fernando Llorente all returning to the starting line-up.
Midfielders Ander Iturraspe and Ander Herrera are ruled out through suspension, but left-back Jon Aurtenetxe is available after serving a one-match ban.
Real Madrid have reported no new injury concerns and have a fully fit squad for the trip to the Basque Country. Winger Angel Di Maria serves a ban for accumulating five yellow cards, so Jose Callejon may get a rare start.
Fabio Coentrao could replace Marcelo at left-back, while in midfield, Sami Khedira should return in place of Esteban Granero.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Athletic Bilbao have won six of their last nine home matches in La Liga.
- The Basques have lost nine of their last 10 encounters with Real Madrid.
- Bilbao face Los Blancos' city-rivals Atletico Madrid in the Europa League final on May 9 in Bucharest.
- Real Madrid are unbeaten in their last 20 league matches (W17, D3).
- Los Blancos have scored in all but one of their last 48 games - a goalless draw against Valencia on April 8.
- Should Madrid win, Jose Mourinho (pictured right) will become the first coach in history to have won the domestic championship in four major European leagues (Portugal, England, Italy and Spain).
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Top 3 Predictions
Athletic Bilbao 1-3 Real Madrid CF
- 15.96 %
Athletic Bilbao 0-3 Real Madrid CF
- 10.61 %
Athletic Bilbao 1-4 Real Madrid CF
- 9.04 %
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Sep 1, 2013||Real Madrid CF 3 - Athletic Bilbao 1|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Apr 14, 2013||Athletic Bilbao 0 - Real Madrid CF 3|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Nov 17, 2012||Real Madrid CF 5 - Athletic Bilbao 1|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||May 2, 2012||Athletic Bilbao 0 - Real Madrid CF 3|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Jan 22, 2012||Real Madrid CF 4 - Athletic Bilbao 1|
|Dec 19, 2013||Athletic Bilbao 4 - Celta 0||ESPC|
|Dec 15, 2013||Sevilla 1 - Athletic Bilbao 1||LIGA|
|Dec 7, 2013||Celta 1 - Athletic Bilbao 0||ESPC|
|Dec 1, 2013||Athletic Bilbao 1 - FC Barcelona 0||LIGA|
|Nov 25, 2013||Malaga 1 - Athletic Bilbao 2||LIGA|
|6||Mikel San José Domínguez||Defender|
|10||Óscar De Marcos||Midfielder|
|13||Raúl Fernández Mateos||Goalkeeper|
Needing just two more goals to take his season tally to 30, the 27-year-old has enjoyed a phenomenal campaign and has played a significant role in Athletic's ascent to two cup finals. The giant striker will relish lining up against the Madrid backline, which has looked a bit fragile in the past couple of games.
The Portuguese forward will be desperate to keep banging in the goals and pip rival Lionel Messi to the 'Pichichi' crown. However, the former Manchester United ace will need to step up his game in the cauldron of San Mames, where Athletic's defensive tactic of ambushing the ball carrier can make possession difficult to hold on to.
Athletic will be fired up for this, as they know a victory will keep the pressure on Levante and Atletico Madrid in the race for European qualification. A raucous San Mames awaits the visitors, who refused to host the May 25 Copa del Rey final between Athletic and Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu citing building works going on at the time in the stadium, and the champagne may have to stay on ice until the weekend.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed