Athletic Bilbao v Celta Vigo – San Mamés Stadium at 17:30 GMT Live at La Liga TV
When Gaizka Garitano took charge of Athletic Bilbao in December 2019, the famous Basque club that was a founding member of the Primera Division where facing up to the realistic prospect of a first-ever relegation from the Spanish top-flight. Entrenched in La Liga’s bottom-three, Les Leones were directionless.
However, the local 44-year-old inspired a marvellous turnaround in performances and results to push Athletic into a comfortable top-half position. And the eight-time champions have continued their upward trajectory in 2019/20, consolidating their place in the upper echelons of the La Liga table.
The Bilbao boys return to league action having suffered only four defeats in 19 outings this season, including just one in their past nine matches. Nevertheless, Athletic haven’t been exempt from criticism with Garitano’s group often struggling to inspire in the final-third, and reliant on their well-drilled defence.
Athletic to excel at San Mames
Even so, Les Leones have proven exceptional operators at their San Mames base and deserve our support at kind 1.90 quotes to overcome a -0.50 Asian Handicap hurdle when Celta Vigo arrive. The hosts pocketed an excellent W14-D6-L1 – a 67% win rate – under Garitano when entertaining La Lia opposition here.
Athletic have delivered a remarkable 12 (57%) clean sheets in that 21-game sample, whilst only Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid are limiting opposition opportunities as well as Les Leones this term according to Expected Goals (xG). Garitano’s men are also amongst the leading pack for shots in the box conceded.
Such a strong foundation should put the Bilbao outfit on the right track to profit on Sunday evening. Visitors Celta have triumphed just three times in 2019/20 and the Galicians have already been beaten in six of their nine away days, shipping two goals or more on six occasions.
Celta lacking a plan
Celta have lacked an identity or system and are once again being let down by a porous backline, leaderless midfield and a forwardline that’s unsustainably dependent on Iago Aspas to score goals. much more is to be expected from the likes of Hugo Mallo, Denis Suárez, Stan Lobotka, Fran Beltran and Rafinha.
Oscar Garcia was appointed in early November and has at least imposed improvements in the Vigo-based club’s performance levels but the Galicians remain an unconvincing case on their travels, leaking three goals defeat in recent trips to both Levante and Leganes. A repeat display here would prove fatal.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Athletic Bilbao -0.50 at 1.900
Preview by: @MarkOHaire