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Primera División

  • December 18, 2010
  • • 17:00
  • • Estadio Ciudad de Valencia, Valencia
  • Referee: José Luis González González
  • • Attendance: 18000
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La Liga Preview: Levante - Athletic Bilbao

La Liga Preview: Levante - Athletic Bilbao

While los Granotes are aiming to push away from the bottom three, los Leones have half an eye on Europe...

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Levante have made a positive impression in the opening months of the Primera Division season, but if they want to avoid the ignominy of dropping into the relegation zone over the brief Christmas recess then they will have to ensure they defeat Athletic Bilbao in Valencia on Saturday evening.

Los Granotes’ form at the Ciutat de Valencia has been the foundation to their campaign as they have picked up exactly two-thirds of their 15 points at the venue. Luis Garcia’s men are not completely impotent on their travels, earning a win over Almeria as well as a draw last weekend against Sporting de Gijon.

Having taken the lead with less than quarter of the match to play through Felipe Caicedo, it seemed that they would score a vital three points towards securing their safety, but an equaliser 10 minutes from time was to thwart the newly promoted side, who have yo-yoed between the top two divisions for almost a decade.

Recently the club have been on the end of some questionable refereeing decisions, but veteran defender Asier del Horno has elected to keep quiet on the matter, indicating his belief that grumbling will simply exacerbate the situation.

If Levante can show the kind of mature attitude on the field they are displaying in the media, they have every chance of earning enough points to ensure their survival, but this is a match they certainly won’t want to lose.

Travelling Problems


Athletic Bilbao have been almost perennial mid-table achievers over the course of the last decade, and there is little to suggest that the Basque side are going to do anything to shake that tag this season. With nearly half the matches played they lie eighth in the standings, keeping half an eye on developments above them in case there is the opportunity to reach Europe.

Undoubtedly their strength lies in their form at San Mames, where they’ve earned an impressive 18 points from a possible 24. Last weekend they gained an impressive 2-1 success over Espanyol, rallying from a goal down at the half-time interval to score twice late on and maintain their impressive run.

After watching his side display what he described as “soul and character”, coach Joaquin Caparros will be keen for them to go and claim three points in Valencia to maintain their recent momentum. Mikel San Jose believes this is a task not beyond his side.

“Clearly we would have liked to get many more points away from home, but is complicated because all the teams in the league are very strong at home,” the centre-back said. “We are able to win at Levante.”

Scoring more points away from home is now a set priority for the Basques, who will be travelling to Valencia with the hope of scoring three such beasts.


TEAM NEWS

Levante


Nano was expected to miss out due to suspension, but his appeal against a yellow card has been successful and he will be able to feature.

Felipe Caicedo is expected to overcome a persistent ankle problem to feature while Juanfran is a greater doubt for the weekend’s fixture. Hector Rodas, Nacho Gonzalez, Iborra and Miguel Perez are still issues.

Athletic


Fernando Amorebieta is suspended but has been suffering from muscle problems this week in any case. A more worrying complaint is Fernando Llorente, who has endured a sprained ankle but is expected to feature.

Andoni Iraola, Koikili and Mikel San Jose are fighting muscular complaints of varying degrees of severity.

Players to watch

F. Caicedo

Position: Attacker

Games: 0

  • 0
  • 0
  • 0
Felipe Caicedo missed training earlier this week because of an ankle injury, but the Ecuadorian will return to action in time for the weekend’s match. His presence in the starting XI is vital as he has proven himself the club’s most likely source of goals in recent times. On loan from Manchester City, he scored importantly against Sporting de Gijon last weekend and has four goals in his last four games.

Toquero

Position: Attacker

Games: 1

  • 0
  • 0
  • 0
Toquero may not have scored last weekend, but putting the ball in the net is not regularly the job of this attacker. A hard working player, he can great room for strike partner Fernando Llorente because of his graft, grinding down the defence and forcing a physical or mental slip. Has spent a fair portion of this season on the sidelines so will be keen to prove his worth once more after being Athletic’s outstanding player last weekend.

Editor's Prediction

Levante have proven to be a highly erratic force this season, while Athletic Bilbao have tended to save their best form for home matches. Both sides have been scoring plenty of goals while conceding at the same time, so there should be plenty of action in an encounter that marginally favours the hosts.

Think you know the score? Visit William Hill to bet on this match now.

Last Five Matches

Head To Head

Levante

Athletic Club

Wins
2
0
3
Wins

Betting & Predictions

Reader's Predictions

Levante UD LEV
Levante UD Levante
Draw
Athletic Club Bilbao ATH
Athletic Club Bilbao Athletic Club
26%
22%
52%

Top 3 Predictions

Levante UD LEV
1 - 2
Athletic Club Bilbao ATH
Levante UD LEV
1 - 1
Athletic Club Bilbao ATH
Levante UD LEV
0 - 1
Athletic Club Bilbao ATH

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