Athletic Bilbao v Alaves – San Mamés at 12:00 GMT+1 live at Premier Sports
Eduardo Berizzo was sacked by Athletic Bilbao after a 13-game winless left the Basques entrenched in the relegation mix-up in December. Gaizka Garitano was given the gig following a spell with the youth set-up and immediately set about improving fortunes, guiding Les Leones to within potential reach of the top-four.
Athletic had W10-D5-L3 under Garitano’s watch before heading to Real Madrid last weekend, a run of results that had brought the club to within five points of Getafe in fourth. However, Les Leones’ meek record on the road again came under serious scrutiny as Bilbao failed to show up in a dismal 3-0 defeat.
All four of their losses under the current management have now arrived outside of their San Mames base. Only two have been tabled by a margin of two goals or more and Athletic have conceded the fewest shorts from inside the penalty area and are third in the Expected Goals (xG) conceded from open play in La Liga., highlighting their largely excellent record at the back in 2018/19.
So with stats emphasising Athletic’s ability, and a mean record on home soil, I’m happy to support the Basques with a -0.75 Asian Handicap start on Saturday against fellow European-chasers Alaves. The hosts have W7-D3-L0 in La Liga action at San Mames since Garitano took charge, even holding runaway league leaders Barcelona here to a goalless draw.
Alaves running out of steam
Alaves head coach Abelardo Fernandez turned down a new contract this week with the in-demand boss apparently attracting interest from numerous clubs in Spain. His summer departure would be deemed a major blow to the Vitoria club who have punched well above their weight since Abelardo arrived in situ.
Renowned for their compact and organised defence, Alaves utilise fast, direct counter-attacks at every opportunity. El Glorioso have built their wonderful campaign upon their outstanding efforts at their Mendizorrotza base but in recent weeks the underdogs have started to falter, perhaps suffering under the weight of expectation and a long, arduous campaign.
Since November’s international break, Alaves have W5-D8-L8 to slide down from fourth into mid-table ahead of the midweek round of matches in La Liga. The visitors have W3-D2-L6 in that sample away from home and managed just W1-D1-L8 at clubs in 13th and above, suggesting they could come unstuck at one of Spain’s most difficult road trips on Saturday.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Athletic Bilbao -0.75 at 1.900
Preview by: @MarkOHaire.
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