18 December 2018
Encouraged by a promising 1-0 win over Girona last time out, Athletic Bilbao now head towards the Estadio Mendizorrotza to take on a struggling Deportivo Alaves side.
Thanks to an outstanding start of the season, the Babazorros currently sit fifth in the table, just two points clear of the Champions League promotion zone. However, their recent drop-off in form has seen Abelardo’s men securing barely one triumph in their previous seven competitive outings (W1, D2, L4). After suffering three losses in their last four meetings across all competitions, Abelardo is desperate to see his players improving, especially defensively, considering El Glorioso conceded a goal in each of their past eight competitive encounters. But, Alaves’s impressive home form could have a major impact here, as the Babazorros managed to avoid a failure in all seven home matches in La Liga this campaign, securing four wins while being held to three draws in the run.
On the other hand, last weeks’ victory over Girona has brought Athletic’s disastrous 13-game La Liga winless run to an end, proving the Lions are going in the right direction. Gaizka Garitano’s men have also managed back-to-back wins for the first time this season by hammering Huesca 4-0 in Copa del Rey’s clash. However, the Rojiblancos are the only team in the Spanish top-tier competition that has failed to clinch a victory on the road this term (D4, L3). Moreover, the Basque outfit has racked up three straight losses away from home, conceding seven goals while struggling to find the back of the net on two occasions in the process. Garitano’s players have also failed to keep a clean sheet in all of their seven road clashes, which is the joint-weakest defense record in La Liga.
Provisional line-up – Deportivo Alaves:
Gk: Pacheco Defense: Laguardia – Ruben Duarte – Ximo Navarro – Martin Midfield: Manu Garcia – Tomas Pina – Ibai Gomez – Wakaso Attack: Jony – Calleri
Provisional line-up – Athletic Bilbao:
Gk: Herrerin Defense: Capa – Alvarez – Unai Nunez – Oscar de Marcos Midfield: Raul Garcia – Dani Garcia – Benat Attack: Cordoba – Inaki Williams – Aduriz
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