Athletic Appetiser for Saturday Spanish Feast

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Athletic Bilbao can climb to sixth place in La Liga on Friday when they kick-off the weekend's action in Spain against Celta Vigo.

Gaizka Garitano

Athletic Bilbao have the chance to climb to sixth place in La Liga on Friday night, and they will be desperate to at least stay in the early conversation for European qualification when they take on a struggling Celta Vigo side.

Bilbao may have made a slow start to the season but they are beginning to turn the San Mames into something of a fortress once again, having won the last three, a run which includes beating Sevilla 2-1.

Celta managed to end an eight-game winless run last time out but they have still to win on the road this season, while only one team has let in more than their 20 goals this term.

The Sky Blues have only won one of their last ten games at the San Mames and the surprise is Los Leones are odds against at 23/20 to secure the three points.

Gaizka Garitano’s men have not been as defensively sound as they could have been though, keeping just three clean sheets this term, and Celta will fancy their chances of at least scoring, particularly with Inigo Martinez suspended for this clash, and a home win with both teams to score is a tempting 10/3.

Real Problems for the Champions

What is going on at Real? Zinedine Zidane’s men looked to have taken a big step in the title race by winning El Clasico but things have taken a big turn for the worse since.

Real were hammered 4-1 by Valencia and lost 2-1 at home to Alaves – two teams who may have been in the bottom three if they hadn’t won – before succumbing to a 2-0 defeat at Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League in midweek.

Sevilla’s five-game winning streak came to an emphatic end against Chelsea in Europe on Wednesday but Julen Lopetegui had rotated his squad with this clash in mind.

Los Blancos had overcome recent problems against Sevilla to piece together a three-match winning streak but that only makes this match tougher to call.

There are some nice prices about either side to win but, playing it safe, goals look a more than viable option for both sides, so over 2.5 goals with both teams to score at 1/1 is the call.

Time for Barca to Kick On

While Real have struggled, so too have Barcelona, more so in fact, having lost to their arch rivals at home as well as suffering a 1-0 defeat at Atletico Madrid.

Getafe have also triumphed over the Blaugrana while Alaves were good enough to get a point and it is not hard to see why Ronald Koeman’s men have got some catching up to do.

Barca actually go into this weekend’s round of matches behind surprise package Cadiz in the table, having won just once on the road this term, making it far from straightforward – on the face of it least.

Cadiz’s chances of landing another big scalp – they beat Real 2-0 at the Bernabeu – is dented by their home form as they have yet to win at the Ramon de Carranza, while they lost three of their five matches there.

Alvaro Cervera’s men may be in sixth place in the table but they have only scored nine goals, while only two of those have come at home, and it is difficult to make a case for anything other than a Barca win.

Cadiz should at least set themselves up as hard to beat but Messi and Co should find a way through to secure the win, with an away victory to nil worth considering at 23/20.

*All odds correct at time of writing

Rob has around 20 years journalism experience and has written and commentated on the likes of football, cricket and rugby. He also has an impressive background in racquet sports and regularly provides content on the likes of tennis and badminton.

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