Atletico Madrid will be bidding to strengthen their grip on a top-four spot in La Liga when they head to San Mames on Saturday evening to take on Athletic Bilbao.
Diego Simeone’s side are currently fourth in the table, four points clear of fifth-placed Real Betis, while Athletic occupy eighth, seven points behind sixth-placed Real Sociedad in the race for a European finish.
Athletic will enter Saturday’s contest off the back of a 3-2 victory at Cadiz last time out, with first-half goals from Raul Garcia, Iker Muniain and Mikel Vesga proving enough to secure all three points despite the relegation-threatened hosts launching a late response at Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla.
Marcelino’s side currently sit eighth in the table, now just four points behind seventh-placed Villarreal, but they are seven points behind sixth-placed Real Sociedad, so a Europa League spot looks beyond them.
The Basque outfit have not finished higher than eighth in Spain’s top flight since 2017, so seventh would certainly be a big step in the right direction, and they will fancy their chances of picking up a respectable amount of points in their final five games of the campaign.
Athletic have matches against top-four outfits Atletico and Sevilla, in addition to facing Valencia, Granada and Osasuna, with three of their final five games coming in front of their own supporters.
The Lions have secured 27 points from their 16 home league games this term and will be taking on an Atletico side that have been inconsistent on their travels this season, picking up just 24 points from their 16 fixtures away from Wanda Metropolitano.
Atletico have been unable to defend their La Liga title this season, and bitter rivals Real Madrid could actually win the league this weekend; Simeone’s side are instead focusing on securing a top-four spot, currently sitting fourth in the table, four points ahead of fifth-placed Real Betis.
The Red and Whites are just two points behind second-placed Barcelona, meanwhile, and the runners-up spot in the league would go down as a successful campaign considering their issues during stages of the season.
Atletico have only won one of their last three in the league and will enter this match off the back of a goalless draw at home to Granada on April 20.
Simeone’s side will welcome Real Madrid to Wanda Metropolitano on May 8, with Los Blancos potentially being champions by that point, before taking on Elche, Sevilla and Real Sociedad in their final three matches of the campaign, so a top-four spot is not secure due to the strength of their fixture list.
Los Colchoneros have actually only won one of their last four league meetings with Athletic, suffering a 2-1 loss in the corresponding match last term, while the two teams played out a goalless draw at Wanda Metropolitano earlier this season.
Athletic Bilbao La Liga form:
Atletico Madrid La Liga form:
Atletico Madrid form (all competitions):
We say: Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Atletico Madrid
Only Cadiz (13) have drawn more league matches than Athletic (12) this season, and we fancy the Basque outfit to secure a share of the spoils here. Atletico need to win to strengthen their grip on a top-four spot, but the champions struggled against Granada last time out and might have to settle for another point.