Athletic Bilbao v Eibar – San Mamés Stadium at 17:30 GMT LIVE AT Premier Sports
Athletic Bilbao have been a team transformed since Gaizka Garitano took charge 12 months ago. Entrenched in La Liga’s relegation battle, the local 44-year-old inspired a marvellous turnaround in performances and results to push the Basque giants into a comfortable top-half position last term.
The eight-time champions have remained a force at their San Mames base, fortunately so considering Les Leones have found positive results on the road trickier during Garitano’s reign. Last weekend’s 3-2 reverse at Betis put an end to Athletic’s impressive recent run of results (W4-D1-L1).
Back at San Mames, Athletic deserve our support around the 1.75 mark against Eibar on Saturday. The hosts have pocketed an excellent W19-D11-L10 – a 48% win rate – under Garitano with those figures improving to a wonderful W14-D5-L1 when entertaining La Lia opposition here. That 70% win rate arrives alongside a superb 11 clean sheets in 20 outings.
Oppose under-fire Eibar
Plucky Eibar have punched well above their weight since securing a first ever promotion to La Liga back in 2014/15. The smallest club to ever reach the Spanish top-flight, Los Armeros have defied perennial pre-season predictions of doom to establish themselves amongst the Iberian elite.
Under wily head coach Jose Luis Mendilibar, Eibar have finished 10th, 9th and 12th across their last three campaigns, even taking the honour of top Basque club during the 2017/18 renewal. However, Los Armeros’ stay in the top-tier could be coming under serious threat this term following the departure of key players.
Joan Jordan, Ruben Pena and Marc Cucurella all exited in the summer and with Eibar operating off a shoestring budget, capable replacements have been hard to find. Los Armeros have slumped to nine defeats from their opening 15 fixtures and now sit just two points off the drop-zone following a four-game losing run.
The Basque boys make the short journey to Bilbao having been thumped 4-1 at regional rivals Real Sociedad on their most recent road trip and the visitors have now been beaten in 13/27 (48%) games as guests since the beginning of last season. To make matters worse, Mendilibar’s men rank inside the bottom five across a range of major performance data metrics.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Athletic Bilbao -0.50 at 1.750
Preview by: @MarkOHaire