Preview: Athletic Bilbao vs. Real Betis

Preview: Athletic Bilbao vs. Real Betis

Athletic Bilbao and Real Betis are separated by two points in the La Liga table ahead of their pivotal showdown at San Mames on Thursday evening.

With six games remaining, seventh-placed Athletic trail sixth-placed Betis as both sides aim to secure a European berth before the end of the season.

Despite enjoying more than 70% possession at the Iberostar Estadi on Monday, Athletic Bilbao left it late to rescue a point against Mallorca, with Inaki Williams netting a 96th-minute penalty to snatch a 1-1 draw for his side.

Ernesto Valverde’s men dominated their hosts for large spells of the game, racking up 16 shots in the process, but they failed to turn their dominance into three points and were made to pay for their wastefulness.

Athletic enjoyed a six-match unbeaten run across March and April, recording four wins and two draws in all competitions, but they have managed to take just one point from a possible six since then, with a 1-0 loss to Sevilla preceding Monday’s draw.

Due to the defeat against Sevilla, the Lions have now lost four of their last seven La Liga games on home soil, having lost only two of their opening nine league matches at San Mames at the beginning of the campaign.

It is also worth pointing out that Athletic have won just two of their previous eight home league games, so the Basque outfit will be eager to turn the tide at San Mames and reignite their quest for European football.

Real Betis, meanwhile, suffered a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of table-topping Barcelona last time out as the champions elect humiliated Manuel Pellegrini’s side at Camp Nou, limiting the visitors to a solitary shot on target.

Following early goals from Andreas Christensen and Robert Lewandowski, Betis defender Edgar Gonzalez was sent off on 33 minutes before Raphinha netted Barca’a third on the stroke of half time, with Guido Rodriguez scoring an own goal late on.

When Los Verdiblancos chalked up a six-game unbeaten streak across February and March – notching four wins and two draws in the league – it looked as though the Andalusia outfit would mount a serious challenge for a top-four finish.

However, after losing four of their previous six La Liga matches, Betis find themselves nine points shy of the Champions League places, with the likes of Villarreal and Real Sociedad gathering momentum above.

To make matters worse for Pellegrini’s men, they have lost each of their last three away league outings, with a 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid and a 3-2 loss to Osasuna preceding Saturday’s failure at Camp Nou.

Athletic Bilbao La Liga form:

Athletic Bilbao form (all competitions):

Real Betis La Liga form:

We say: Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Real Betis
While Athletic Bilbao have struggled for consistency on home soil in recent times, Real Betis have faltered on the road, losing each of their last three away league games.

With that in mind, we expect Athletic and Betis to share the points at San Mames as both sides aim to avoid defeat and keep their respective European pushes alive.

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