Athletic Bilbao vs Atletico Madrid
One of the most heavily anticipated fixtures in the La Liga calendar pits Athletic Bilbao and Atletico Madrid against each other at San Mames.
Athletic Bilbao’s home form in La Liga has gone into overdrive since a 2-0 loss to Real Madrid on the opening weekend, with Ernesto Valverde’s side tallying a league-high 22 goals across their subsequent seven league games at San Mames (W5, D2). Taking a halftime lead could be a potentially season-defining achievement for Bilbao, considering they’ve racked up six wins in nine top-flight matches when leading at the interval this term (D3). Bilbao’s outrageous form in the Basque country ought to inspire their bid to avenge last season’s La Liga double at the hands of Atletico Madrid and bolster their position in the top-four race. A gut-wrenching 1-1 draw at Granada in the previous threw a spanner in the works, leaving ‘Los Leones’ five points adrift of fourth-placed Barcelona.
Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid eased past lowly Lazio 2-0 in midweek Champions League action to confirm their knockout progression as group winners and build further confidence after a dramatic 2-1 home league win against Almeria last weekend. But Diego Simeone’s men have faltered on the road lately, registering just one win on their four most recent travels in all competitions (D1, L2). Without a clean sheet during that sequence, ‘Los Colchoneros’ fans would be correct to doubt Atletico’s chances of posting back-to-back away league wins against Bilbao for the first time since 2016. But going in front at the break would probably put this game to bed, knowing the visitors have won all eight La Liga fixtures when grabbing a halftime lead this season.