Almería are rock bottom of La Liga and looking increasingly likely to be relegated to the second division. Even if they tripled their current tally of six points, it wouldn’t be enough to lift them off the bottom, as they are winless in 23 games (6D, 17L) and their campaign seems to be getting worse by the week.
Gaizka Garitano’s team’s Achilles heel is their defense. After their 2-1 defeat to Valencia last time out, no team in La Liga has conceded more goals than Almería’s 51. Worryingly, they have also conceded 13 goals in the final 15 minutes of matches, which has cost them an additional nine points this season.
History suggests that their poor form is unlikely to end here, as Athletic Bilbao have won ten of the last 11 meetings between the two sides (1D). The visitors also come into the game at the Power Horse Stadium in good form, having beaten Atlético Madrid 1-0 in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final on Wednesday, extending their impressive run to just one defeat in their last 19 games in all competitions (14W, 4D).
Ernesto Valverde’s side are therefore well-placed to qualify for Europe for the first time since 2016/17, and even the Champions League. They go into the matchday in fifth place in the table, having kept a fifth clean sheet in their last seven La Liga games, following a 4-0 win over Mallorca last time out (5W, 1D, 1L).
Key Players: Sergio Arribas is Almería’s top scorer this season, with five of his six league goals coming after half-time. He could be up against Athletic Bilbao defender Yuri Berchiche, who has never lost in four previous meetings between the two sides (2W, 2D) and, after scoring a brace against Mallorca, will be looking to score in consecutive league games for the first time since December 2019!
Hot stat: There have only been 20 goals in Athletic Bilbao’s 11 away league games this season, the joint-fewest in La Liga.
Prediction: Almería 0-2 Athletic Bilbao
Athletic Bilbao are strong favorites to win this match. They are in much better form than Almería and have a good recent record against them. I predict a 2-0 win for Athletic Bilbao.