Athletic Bilbao v Real Madrid – San Mames Stadium at 20:00 live on Sky Sports 2

Not for the first time, Athletic Club have made a sloppy start to their La Liga season. Sunday’s convincing 3-1 reverse at Villarreal meant Ernesto Valverde’s men had slumped to defeats in three of their opening four league encounters, with a solitary 3-1 win over Getafe standing as the only positive.

But the Basques are back at their San Mames base on Wednesday evening eager to get back on track. Les Leones have been beaten once in their past 13 outings in front of their passionate home support and that run of results includes a 1-0 success over this midweek’s opposition Real Madrid.

Valverde’s likely to continue with the deadly duo of Aritz Aduriz and Raul Garcia up top and will look to put pressure on a Los Blancos defence missing Sergio Ramos. The visitors are also without Gareth Bale, Danilo and James Rodriguez and whilst their record-breaking start of four consecutive clean sheets deserves plenty of plaudits, Rafa Benitez’s men have been living dangerously.

The capital club were expected to blow Granada away at the Bernebeau on Saturday but found the going more difficult than anticipated. The minnows may feel they could have taken a point and certainly had the chances to do so. A similarly subdued display from Real is likely to be punished in Basque Country.

Athletic love welcoming La Liga’s gun guns to the north of Spain. Although their W2-D3-L5 record when entertaining Barcelona or Real Madrid in league football is reasonable across the past five years, it’s worth noting that return improves to W2-D2-L1 in the most recent five games against the big-two.

I had a look over Madrid’s results when visiting top-half teams in the past five seasons and there’s not a huge amount wrong with their W26-D5-L14 efforts. However, it was intriguing to see, only 15/45 (33%) of matches had ended in a Real win by at least two goals. And that return reduces to just 4/18 (22%) victories by two goals or more at top-half clubs in the past two campaigns.

Therefore, opposing a comfortable Los Blancos win looks the best avenue for profit. We can back Athletic at 1.90 with a +1 start on the Asian Handicap line and that holds plenty of appeal and even more so when going back over those Real Madrid trends at La Liga’s leading lights.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Athletic Bilbao +1 at 1.90

Prices correct at the time of writing.

By @MarkOHaire

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