Soccer Spain LaLiga Prediction
Espanyol vs Ath Bilbao - Match Preview
⚽ 8 April 2023 - 14:15 GMT +0
The longest active losing streak of this La Liga (LL) season has Espanyol sitting in 18th place and on the verge of being relegated from Spain’s top division for the second time in four years. The revolving door of LL managers continued after the international break when, upon a fourth straight loss (2-1 away to Girona), Espanyol’s management ran out of patience with Diego Martínez after nine months at the helm.
They have now turned to uncredentialed Liverpool legend Luis García to save their season. García was successfully managing Real Madrid’s second reserve team in Spain’s fifth-tier Tercera Federación prior to being headhunted, and the former attacking midfielder’s first job is to get his defensive unit back in shape. Espanyol’s current woes have come despite scoring in 13 consecutive LL games, consequently seeing both teams score on the day in all but two 1-0 wins over Elche and Betis.
After their Copa del Rey (CDR) semi-final elimination at the hands of Osasuna on Tuesday evening, Athletic Bilbao’s only path to European football next season is via the league. Whilst the CDR final result could open up a European slot for seventh place, which Athletic currently occupy, the aim for boss Ernesto Valverde will no doubt be to close down the seven-point gap to sixth-placed Villarreal and get back into the Europa League after a five-year absence.
Trips to Espanyol and Almería in the coming weeks could be the opportunity Athletic need to put behind them what was one of the league’s worst records over the previous six rounds (W1, D2, L3). But having already lost at home to Espanyol, their only loss from their first eight games of the LL season, they certainly cannot take a lower-ranked opponent for granted, especially as they now appear in worse shape!
📋 Players to watch: Espanyol winger Martin Braithwaite booked his seventh second-half goal of the LL season at the weekend, but with very limited team success (W2, D2, L3) when on the scoresheet after the break. Gorka Guruzeta found the net in Athletic’s last LL away trip, with four of his five second-half LL goals this term coming in wins.
⚡ Hot streak: Espanyol’s last five LL matches have all produced more than 2.5 total goals, with both teams scoring on the day.
Espanyol vs Ath Bilbao - Match Preview
⚽ 8 April 2023 - 16:30 GMT +0
It’s been a tough few months for Real Sociedad, as only one win in eight matches (D4, L3) since Valentine’s Day has disturbed their romance with all things European football related. Not only were they dumped out of the UEFA Europa League, but with just one win in their last six La Liga (LL) outings (D3, L2) their previously vice-like grip on a top-six spot has loosened somewhat.
A lack of firepower up top offers one explanation for manager Imanol Alguacil’s problems, having seen his side fail to score in eight of their last 12 matches. The Reale Arena has held strong and helped Sociedad counteract their goal-shy nature throughout this tough time, with the White-Blue avoiding defeat in eight of their last nine home matches (W4, D4), while also keeping three consecutive clean sheets.
They’ll welcome an in-form Getafe side who’ve made a sprint for safety recently after their 0-0 draw against Athletic Club last time outstretched their undefeated streak to four matches (W2, D2). Manager Quique Sánchez Flores can breathe a little easier now off the back of this fine form, with his team now possessing a three-point advantage over the relegation zone, but with his side in a cluster of six relegation-battling teams separated by just three points ahead of the round, he can’t rest easy just yet.
The visitors are yet to showcase their uptick in form on the road, failing to secure victory in any of their last seven away league matches (D3, L4). Getafe did cause an upset when winning the reverse fixture 2-1, and despite their new-found travel sickness, their hunt for a league double isn’t completely out of the realms of possibility considering they’ve won four of their last seven visits to the Reale Arena (D1, L2).
📋 Key battle: Sociedad defender Robin Le Normand missed the last H2H through injury but has helped his side keep three clean sheets in his last four encounters with Getafe (W2, D2). He’ll have his hands full with Enes Ünal who’s had a hand in 16 (G13, A3) of his team's 27 LL goals this campaign, including a goal and assist in the reverse fixture.
⚡ Hot stat: Sociedad has only lost two of their last 37 LL games when opening the scoring (W28, D7).
Espanyol vs Ath Bilbao - Match Preview
⚽ 8 April 2023 - 19:00 GMT +0
Real Madrid produced arguably their best performance of the season to beat Barcelona 4-0 in midweek and reach the Copa del Rey final, which is saying something given they hammered Valladolid 6-0 in La Liga (LL) last weekend. It gives manager Carlo Ancelotti a dilemma if he’s considering resting key players again, as they gear up to face Chelsea in the Champions League on Wednesday.
The 12-point gap to Barcelona at the top of the standings seems insurmountable, but there’s no suggestion anyone at the Bernabéu has given up the chase, especially as they haven’t lost a home league game for more than a year (W12, D5). They’ve only ever lost one home H2H against Villarreal too (W16, D6), so must be confident of extending that record.
The visitors head to Madrid having compiled a five-match unbeaten run in the league, culminating in back-to-back multi-goal wins ‘to nil’ (W4, D1), including a game against Real Sociedad (W 2-0) that manager Quique Setién described as “spectacular in every sense”. That good form suggests if they’re going to beat Madrid here, this might be their best chance as they continue their bid to return to Europe next term.
Unbeaten in three competitive away games (W2, D1), the Yellow Submarine almost sunk Madrid here last term when battling to a 0-0 draw, so the trip to the capital won’t necessarily overwhelm Setién’s side. They start the round seven points clear of seventh-placed Athletic Bilbao and in a European qualification position, which would only be strengthened by repeating or bettering last term’s draw.
📋 Players to watch: Karim Benzema is breaking records left, right and centre as he’s bagged consecutive hat-tricks to become the first Madrid player to score 20 goals in a season for the 11th time! Villarreal’s José Luis Morales recently completed a hat-trick of a different sort, as his last three goals all arrived after the 80th minute.
⚡ Hot stat: Madrid has scored a league-high ten set-piece LL goals this term (excluding penalties) while Villarreal has scored a league-low two.
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