Athletic Bilbao vs Deportivo Alaves

Athletic Bilbao’s pursuit of Copa del Rey glory continues at Estadio San Mames with a routine-looking last-16 tie against Deportivo Alaves.

Copa del Rey semi-finalists in the last four campaigns, Athletic Bilbao are odds-on favorites to reach the quarter-finals after demolishing Eibar 3-0 in the previous round to set up this tie. Ernesto Valverde’s men head into proceedings amidst a purple patch, going unbeaten in their last 13 competitive matches (W10, D3), including five wins on the trot in the build-up to this contest. Buoyed by a 2-1 home win against fierce Basque adversaries Real Sociedad at the weekend, ‘Los Leones’ take the field searching for a sixth consecutive victory on home turf. Since a 2-0 loss to Real Madrid in August, the Basque heavyweights have gone unbeaten in ten straight home league outings (W8, D2), underscoring their status as pre-match favorites.

Bilbao’s outrageous home form casts doubt on Deportivo Alaves’ bid to build on a pulsating 4-3 La Liga triumph at Sevilla over the weekend and maintain their Copa del Rey dream. Luis Garcia Plaza’s side stunned Real Betis 1-0 in the previous cup round, yet they’ll need a miracle to walk away from San Mames unbeaten. Alaves can draw confidence from winning back-to-back games after a four-game winless run (D1, L3). However, before toppling Sevilla on their last top-flight travel, ‘El Glorioso’ had gone winless in their opening ten away matches in La Liga this season (D4, L6), testifying to their immense problems on hostile turf. Adding to this sentiment, they’ve drawn a blank on their last three competitive visits to Bilbao (D1, L2).

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