Athletic Bilbao vs Malaga by Jimeno
Bilbao probably deserved to walk away with something last time out on Thursday evening away to Sevilla, but the team stood with empty hands and left the field with a 1:0 defeat. Sevilla took the lead very early, in fourteenth minute via Iborra after a penalty kick not converted by Jovetic and lowered down the tempo a little probably being satisfied with the result.
On the other side, visitors kept the ball more and had their own chances too, but the goal never came. Overall, visitors probably did deserve something more but continue to look almost harmless in attack away from home. They are now at eight position, having four points less than Europa League placed Villarreal and will need to improve in their home matches in order to chase up the biggest rivals for European exit.
Bilbao should be playing in 4-2-3-1 formation, using Williams as central striker, but also with Muniain, Garcia and Lekue as offensive midfielders. Forward Aritz Aduriz (20/8) continues to be injured, same as goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga (11/0). Also out are right full back De Marcos (15/1) and offensive player Sabin Merino (10/1). Defender Aymeric Laporte (21/1) is doubtful but could recover in time.
Malaga, on the other side, really disappointed in last two matches in LaLiga, as the team played against sides that are surely beatable but instead of taking some points, the team suffered two defeats. Their away loss against Eibar is more or less not that much of a disappointment, but their home defeat in last round against Betis surely is a bad for their morale.
Once again the showed unstable morale since they took the lead in 39th minute via Fornals and nothing seemed like they'll suffered defeat, but once players of Betis leveled up the result in 48th minute with a goal from Martin, there was very little what Malaga did in attack. On contrary, Betis looked better on counters and reached the winning goal in 74th via Sanabria, while the hosts didn't find a way to respond. Malaga is now only seven points above the red zone and their dreams of Europe are finished for sure.
Visitors from Malaga should also be playing in 4-2-3-1 formation, with Dias as their central striker, plus Keko, Fornals and Castro as offensive midfiedlers. Offensive midfielder Juanpi (20/2) is doubtful and could recover in time, but injured remain central defender Bakary Kone (7/0), defensvie midfielder Zdravko Kuzmanovic (4/0), midfielders Juan Carlos (17/0), Recio (9/0) and forward Youssef En-Nesyri (1/1).
- Malaga have failed to win their last 16 away matches (La Liga).
- Athletic Club are undefeated in their last 9 home matches against Malaga.
This is not the perfect season for Bilbao, but in front of own fans they still remain favorites against less than modest Malaga. Easy or difficult, home team should prevail and continue their battle for European spots.