Real Madrid still have second-placed Atletico Madrid in their sights, but if they want to finish above their city rivals at the end of the season they can ill-afford to drop points on Saturday against Athletic Club.
Zinedine Zidane had led his side to three victories in four matches before a disappointing 1-1 draw against Leganes on Monday. There is little doubt, however, this is not a team firing on all cylinders.
Athletic, meanwhile, are chasing a place in the Europa League and after three wins in four matches they approach the match at the Santiago Bernabeu in good spirits.
|Game||Real Madrid v Athletic Club|
|Date||Sunday, April 21|
|Time||3:15pm BST / 10:15am EST|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the match can be watched on beIN Sports or beIN Sports en Espanol. It can be streamed via beIN Sports Connect.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|beIN Sports / beIN Sports en Espanol||beIN Sports Connect|
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game will be streamed via Eleven Sports 1 or watched on TV on Premier Sports 1.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|Premier Sports 1||Eleven Sports 1|
Squads & Team News
|Position||Real Madrid squad|
|Goalkeepers||Navas, Luca, Moha|
|Defenders||Vallejo, Varane, Reguilon, Nacho, Carvajal, Marcelo|
|Midfielders||Kroos, Modric, Casemiro, Asensio, Isco, Ceballos, Llorente|
|Forwards||Benzema, Bale, Vazquez|
Confirmed Real Madrid starting XI: Navas, Carvajal, Vallejo, Varane, Marcelo, Kroos, Modric, Casemiro, Lucas Vasquez, Benzema, Asensio
|Position||Athletic Bilbao squad|
|Defenders||De Marcos, Yeray, Martinez, Yuri, Nunez, Balenziaga, Lekue|
|Midfielders||Etxebarria, R. Garcia, Muniain, Cordoba, San Jose, Susaeta|
|Forwards||Williams, Kodro, Aduriz|
Confirmed Athletic Club starting XI: Herrin, Martinez, Alvarez, San Jose, Etebarria, Williams, Munlain, Cordoba, Berchiche, Lekue, Garcia
Betting & Match Odds
Real Madrid are strong favourites to win, with odds of 9/20 at bet365 . A draw is 10/3, while the price on an Athletic win is 6/1.
Whatever happens in the closing six matches of the season, it has been a disappointing campaign for Real Madrid.
Unable to retain the European Cup for a fourth season in succession, crucially they have not even come close to mounting a challenge for the Primera Division title, 13 points shy of great rivals Barcelona.
Zinedine Zidane’s return to the Bernabeu has not even been able to generate an impressive response, but they do retain a perfect winning record at home with the Frenchman in charge.
Narrow wins against the likes of Huesca and Eibar have steadied the ship, though the fact that the in-form Karim Benzema has been required to score late winners in each of those fixtures should be some indication that things are not all well.
Opinion is split as to how much change is required over the summer, with former coach Fabio Capello suggesting that Zidane will have a transfer budget of an eye-watering €500 million (£432m/$562m) to work with in the summer to rebuild the squad.
Right-back Dani Carvajal does not believe that such drastic change is required.
“I do not think there needs to be a revolution. In recent years the team has not changed much and we have been European champions for 1,000 days,” he argued after the disappointment of Leganes.
If Madrid fail to pick up at least 15 points in their remaining six games, which is a distinct possibility given their form, they are on track for their poorest league season since the 2005-06 campaign, while they are currently poised to finish outside of the top two for the first time in consecutive seasons since 1973-74.
Athletic, meanwhile, are aiming for a return to Europe after missing out this year following four successive forays onto the continent.
Never relegated from the top flight, they flirted with the drop last term but have bounced back impressively this time around and are now aiming for a first Bernabeu win since the 2004-05 season.
“Winning there would give us a big boost in the table and a lot of confidence,” Mikel San Jose said, though he warned his team-mates will give Madrid their full respect.
“We’re going to play a serious match because if we think they’re on holiday, they can score five against us. They have great players and have a great team, and that cannot be doubted.”