La Liga: Basque’s Bilbao and Eibar Look to Improve Form

SD Eibar (via Wikimedia Commons).
SD Eibar (via Wikimedia Commons). /

Welcome to La Liga Talking Points, a weekly column running throughout the season in which we take a look at the key stories and talking points from Spanish football’s top flight. With an inevitable focus on the biggest teams, such as Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Barcelona, there will also be a worthwhile nod toward the rest, we take a look at how the league is shaping up each week and what to look out for going forward.

Real Betis vs. Athletic Club

Sunday’s final La Liga game sees Real Betis host Athletic Club at Estadio Benito Villamarin as they look to bounce back from a poor run of form of late.

Real Betis currently lie 10th in La Liga, and in general will be very pleased with their season to date.

However, a draw and a loss in what on paper looked eminently winnable last two matches has saw Los Verdiblancos lose ground on the top half teams.

With Malaga, Sporting Gijon and Levante to face Betis in the coming weeks, manager Pepe Mel will know his team can still mount a challenge toward the European qualification spots this season.

German Pezzella meanwhile is expected to partner Bruno at centre-back, with Varela continuing to deputise at left-back.

The home side will be missing Juan Manuel Vargas and Heiko Westermann through injury, while Dani Ceballos is expected to be involved, with Rafael van der Vaart pushing for a start too.

Athletic Club meanwhile, will be saddened and frustrated by their domestic campaign so far this season, which has seen the side who finished 4th last season now languishing in 12th position in the table.

However, a run of two wins and two draw in their last four matches has seen the Basque’s accrue eight from a possible 12 points available; a run which, if sustained, could see them return toward the European qualification positions sooner rather than later.

In the meantime Ander Iturraspe and Kike Sola add to a long list of definite injury absentees for manager Ernesto Valverde, while Inaki Williams has been passed fit to take part after training away from the group during the week.

Real Betis vs. Athletic Club Match Prediction

Sunday poses a tough test for Athletic Club, who although harbouring higher expectations for the season ahead than their hosts, have found the travails of European football difficult this season.

Notably, Athletic Club have scored at least 2 goals in their last 3matches in La Liga, with a score draw a likely result for this fixture.


More from La Liga

Eibar vs. Rayo Vallecano

SD Eibar welcome Rayo Vallecano to the Ipurua Municipal Stadium as the miniscule Basque club hope to bounce back from a tough run of games which has seen them accrue just one point from six. 

In a similar fashion to their start to last season, SD Eibar’s form belies their status as the smallest club in decades to play in Spain’s top-flight.

Indeed, Eibar currently sit 7th in La Liga on 13 points after nine matches, and remain in sight of the Europa League qualification places.

However, the Basque’s have faces the Europa League champions and the Champions League champions in their last two matches, and to no disgrace have only picked up one point from both games.

Facing Rayo, Eibar have an opportunity to get back to top form; although Simone Verdi is an injury doubt, with Sergi Enrich likely to start ahead of the loanee.

Furthermore, Dani Garcia has been passed fit, despite struggling with a muscle problem in the week.

Rayo Vallecano meanwhile lay in 14th place among a glut of teams with a slender gap between the precarious bottom three in the division.

Rayo’s form remains unsurprisingly mixed, with three wins and three losses from their last six games resulting in Paco Jemez’s men accruing nine from a possible 18 points available.

Such form is unsurprising for Jemez, whose style lends itself to all or nothing results through his exceptionally attacking style.

Antonio Amaya meanwhile returns from suspension for the visitors, but should miss out on a starting spot, while David Cobeno is the only injury concern for Rayo, with Diego Llorente passed fit to be involved.

SD Eibar vs. Rayo Vallecano Match Prediction

A 3-1 defeat at the hands of Barcelona last time out has spoiled some good form for Eibar, with the Basque minnows starting the campaign positively.

Their opponents all or nothing style can often work against them when facing such a hard-working outfit as the hosts, with a home win the likely result in this fixture.