Preview: Athletic Bilbao vs. Real Sociedad

Preview: Athletic Bilbao vs. Real Sociedad

The latest instalment of the Basque derby takes place at the San Mames Barria as Athletic Bilbao play host to Real Sociedad in La Liga on Saturday.

While the hosts are battling to secure a top-six finish this term, the visitors are seeking to consolidate their place in the top four and qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Athletic Bilbao extended their unbeaten run across all competitions to four matches when they secured a 2-1 away victory over Espanyol last weekend.

Goals either side of half time from Inaki Williams and Nico Williams put the Lions in control, and although Sergi Darder pulled one back for Espanyol late on to set up a nervy finish, the visitors managed to hold on for their second successive away victory.

Ernesto Valverde’s side are still in the mix to qualify for Europe as they currently sit seventh in the La Liga table, five points behind Real Betis in sixth, although hopes of finishing in the top four are slim as 11 points are separating them from rivals Real Sociedad in fourth spot.

Bilbao head into Saturday’s derby fixture having failed to win each of their last four home matches in all competitions, with consecutive defeats to Girona and Barcelona followed by successive draws with Getafe and Osasuna, the latter draw eliminating them from the Copa del Rey at the semi-final stage.

However, Bilbao can be optimistic of success against Real Sociedad as they have lost only one of their last ten top-flight Basque derbies on home soil, including a comprehensive 4-0 triumph last season.

After suffering a 2-0 defeat away against Villarreal, Real Sociedad responded with a routine victory by the same scoreline at home against Getafe last weekend.

Mikel Oyarzabal ended his nine-game drought without a goal when he opened the scoring on the stroke of half time, before Takefusa Kubo netted his second home goal in as many matches to wrap up the three points on the hour mark.

Imanol Alguacil’s side have now won 15 games in La Liga this season and they remain in a strong position to secure their first top-four finish for 10 years, as they sit four points clear of Villareal in fifth place.

Sociedad travel to the San Mames Barria having failed to win each of their last four away games in all tournaments, drawing a blank in front of goal on three of those occasions.

However, January’s 3-1 home victory over Bilbao will provide them with confidence, and securing three more points on Saturday will see them complete their first league double over their Basque rivals since the 2018-19 campaign.

Athletic Bilbao La Liga form:

Athletic Bilbao form (all competitions):

Real Sociedad La Liga form:

Real Sociedad form (all competitions):

We say: Athletic Bilbao 2-2 Real Sociedad
An entertaining contest could be on the cards this weekend between two teams seeking to boost their European hopes by claiming maximum points against their closest rivals.

Real Sociedad came out on top in the reverse fixture earlier this year, but we believe that Athletic Bilbao will come away with at least a point in front of their own fans this time around.

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