MATCH PREVIEW:ATHLETIC BILBAO VS GRANADA
26TH NOV 2021
Athletic Bilbao will be looking to return to winning ways in Spain’s top flight when they continue their 2021-22 campaign at home to Granada on Friday night.
The Basque outfit are currently eighth in the La Liga table on 19 points, while Granada have collected just 11 points this season, which has left them down in 17th position in the division.
Athletic have won four, drawn seven and lost two of their 13 La Liga matches this season, which has seen them collect 19 points, which is enough for eighth position ahead of the next set of fixtures.
Marcelino’s side have only lost one of their last seven in Spain’s top flight, although that defeat came at home to Cadiz on November 5, and they are now four matches without a victory at this level.
Indeed, since beating Villarreal on October 23, the Basque outfit have drawn with Espanyol, Real Sociedad and Levante, in addition to suffering the surprise one-goal reverse at home to Cadiz.
Athletic finished 10th in Spain’s top flight last term but claimed fifth as recent as 2015-16 and will believe that they are capable of challenging for a potential European spot this season.
The Lions will be looking to make it back-to-back La Liga wins over Granada, meanwhile, having recorded a 2-1 victory when the two sides last locked horns at San Mames back in March.
Can Granada pull through?
Granada will enter Friday’s match off the back of a 4-1 home loss to Real Madrid last weekend, while they also suffered a 2-0 defeat at Espanyol before the international break.
There is no getting away from the fact that it has been a tough start to the season for Robert Moreno’s side, with a total of 11 points from 13 matches leaving them in 17th position, level on points with 18th-placed Elche.
Granada have finished seventh and ninth in their last two seasons at this level, so it would be fair to say that a lot was expected of them this season, but their performances thus far have been largely disappointing.
The Red and Whites have won two of their last three league meetings with Athletic but have not been victorious away to the Basque outfit in Spain’s top flight since September 2014.
Granada have actually performed better on their travels this season than on home soil, collecting six points from seven away fixtures and only five from six games in front of their own supporters.
Athletic Bilbao La Liga form:
Granada La Liga form:
Athletic will be missing Asier Villalibre, Daniel Vivian, Peru Nolaskoain and Yuri Berchiche on Friday night through injury, but the Basque outfit do not have any fresh fitness concerns from training this week.
Head coach Marcelino still has plenty of options for change, with Oier Zarraga, Oihan Sancet and Nico Williams among those pushing for spots in the side.
However, there are not expected to be any major surprises when it comes to the home side’s XI, with Alex Berenguer, Iker Muniain, Inaki Williams and Raul Garcia all likely to retain their spots.
Granada, meanwhile, will be missing Isma Ruiz, Victor Diaz, Luis Milla and Domingos Duarte on Friday night through injury.
The visitors will also be unable to call upon the services of Monchu, with the midfielder picking up a straight red card in the home defeat to Real Madrid last time out.
Diaz’s absence in a defensive area will open the door for Raul Torrente to start, while Monchu’s suspension could see Yan Eteki feature in central midfield.
Jorge Molina is also pushing to be involved in the final third of the field and could come into the side for Ruben Rochina, who featured as a forward against Real Madrid.
Athletic Bilbao possible starting lineup:
Simon; Balenziaga, I Martinez, Yeray, Lekue; Berenguer, D Garcia, Vencedor, Muniain; Williams, R Garcia
Granada possible starting lineup:
Maximiano; Quini, Torrente, Sanchez, Neva; Suarez, Gonalons, Eteki, Puertas; Soro, Molina
WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL BE THE OUTCOME?