Real Madrid vs. Athletic Bilbao: Team News, Preview, Live Stream, TV Info
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Real Madrid’s focus may now rest largely with the UEFA Champions League after qualifying for the competition’s semi-finals, but they host Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday hoping to preserve some fine domestic form of late.
Los Blancos are unbeaten in their last six La Liga matchups and can move within one point of second-placed Atletico Madrid with victory over Los Leones in their midweek meeting.
Athletic’s form has been far patchier, meanwhile, and despite recently beating Villarreal to take their first away league victory of 2018, a 3-2 home defeat to Deportivo La Coruna in their following match.
Los Leones have been woeful away from home this La Liga season and kept only two clean sheets in foreign territory, making it seem unlikely they’ll stand much of a chance under the Bernabeu lights on Wednesday.
Read on for a match preview, complete with the latest team news and live-stream information.
Date: Wednesday, April 18
Time: 8:30 p.m. BST/3:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
TV Info: Sky Sports (UK), beIN Sports 3 (U.S.)
Nacho Fernandez hasn’t played a part in Real’s last two league fixtures due to a thigh injury and seems likely to sit out a third in succession in midweek, the club’s only senior injury doubt.
Jesus Vallejo has gone through injury woes of his own this season but should partner Sergio Ramos in central defence against Athletic, although broadcaster Deji Faremi bemoaned the absence of Nacho:
Deji Faremi @deejayfaremi
@Robertonical Juve played without some 1st team players like Dybala and Pjanic because they were suspended at different time, just like Ramos was. Nacho is really really good or else he won’t be in the Spanish team despite being 3rd choice. I mean, wouldn’t RMA have Nacho instead of Vallejo?
Athletic will be pleased to welcome both Ander Iturraspe and Unai Nunez back after the pair served suspensions, although Xabier Etxeita could miss out after suffering a knee injury against Depor on Saturday.
Aritz Aduriz has started Athletic’s last six successive league games on the bench, leaving Inaki Williams to deputise up top in his stead, but the veteran could be recalled to have a swifter impact against Real.
The remaining weeks of La Liga’s season will bear as much fruit as Real are willing to work for, with Barcelona on the cusp of mathematically winning the title but still much left to fight for just below.
As disappointing as the start of this season was at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, manager Zinedine Zidane has at least partly succeeded in piecing it back together, exhibited by his impressive win record at the club, per OptaJose:
100 – Real Madrid have won their 1⃣0⃣0⃣th game under Zinédine Zidane in all competitions (71.4% of wins). Master. https://t.co/YejgFh9dDm
Failure to finish above Atletico would also represent something of a shameful moment for Real, and it’s fixtures such as this in which they need to remain vigilant and avoid any other slip-ups.
Athletic held Los Blancos to a 0-0 stalemate when they met at San Mames in December, and the Spanish Football Podcast illustrated why they might hope to get something out of this clash as well:
The Spanish Football Podcast @tsf_podcast
In La Liga this season, Real Madrid have conceded more goals (35) than Barcelona (17) and Atletico (15) combined.
Jose Angle Ziganda’s men have slumped down La Liga’s pecking order somewhat after enjoying a fruitful winter period, and their nothing-to-lose attitude could be the difference that frees them for a shock result.
But Athletic’s miserable away record combined with Real’s renewed resolve points to a home win in midweek, as Real look to keep their juggernaut chugging toward a successful end to the season.
Breaking Sports News
via Bleacher Report – Front Page https://ift.tt/yO6Sgr
April 16, 2018 at 11:09PM