09 March 2019
La Liga mid-table clash between Athletic Bilbao and Espanyol at the Estadio San Mames sees the two sides seeking all three points to preserve their hopes of breaking into the top six.
Bilbao’s hopes of securing the European promotion are still very much alive in spite of a 2-0 road loss to Valencia last time out. The hosts are unbeaten in all eight of their previous LL home meetings (W4, D4), mainly thanks to their impressive defending. Not only Los Leones managed to keep a clean sheet in four consecutive LL home games, but the last time they’ve allowed over 1.5 goals at the San Mames dates back to early October. However, Athletic’s indifferent form during the past five LL outings (W2, D1, L2) should worry Gaizka Garitano as his players still struggle for consistency. Los Rojiblancos’ main problem remains their apathetic performance in the final third that has seen them score an average of one goal per match at home this campaign. With just 13 goals netted in as many LL home fixtures, the Basque outfit remains the third joint-worst attacking side in the Spanish top tier.
Meanwhile, a promising five-game unbeaten LL run (W2, D3) indicates the visitors are on their way to overcome a severe crisis that has seen them lose nine of ten league games between October 2018 and January 2019. However, the Periquitos still chase their elusive first road triumph in 2019 having suffered three defeats on six road trips across all competitions after the Christmas break (D3, L3). Moreover, before playing out two straight road draws, the Blanquiazules have lost five consecutive LL away games, with their last LL road victory dating back to mid-October and a 2-0 success at Huesca. Only two teams have shipped more goals away from home than Espanyol (21), with Rubi’s men conceding 2+ match goals in seven of 13 LL road meetings this term.
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