Hello and welcome to cfrealmadrid.com. Today we are covering the match preview of Real Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao that to be played on Match Day 18 in Liga Santander 2019/20. After the draw game at Camp Nou with Barcelona, we are hosting Athletic Bilbao in Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday night. Real Madrid is in the contention of league title as we are on the verge of progress along with Barcelona by having similar points in the table. Both teams have 36 points after playing 17 matches each. On the other hand, Athletic Club is on the 8th spot in the table with 27 points.
In the last five meetings of Real Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao, Madrid won 2 times while 3 matches ended in a draw . Now, coming to the interesting facts, Real Madrid have just lost one of their last 19 La Liga games against Athletic (W14 D4). At Santiago Bernabeu, Real Madrid have lost just one of their last 35 La Liga games against Basques sides (W31 D3), 0-2 against Real Sociedad in January 2019 in the only game they failed to score in during that run. Real Madrid are unbeaten in their last eight Laliga home games (W6 D2), their longest run at home in the last two seasons. Let’s discuss the detailed Match Preview as follows.
Real Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao-Match Preview:
After the draw against Barcelona, We must carry forward our good streak and momentum with improved and better performances for the next games also. Casemiro will miss this match because of the yellow card suspension rule. This match will be the last match of Madrid before the Christmas break and Winter Transfer window. Real Madrid have to sort out issues and problems and will have to come back strong in second half of the season.
A record of 10 wins, six draws and one defeat has seen Los Blancos collect 36 points. They have the joint-second best defensive record in the league this term, while their performance at Camp Nou on Wednesday would have given their fans plenty of confidence heading into the winter break.
Although our first half of the season looks good but we lack in goal scoring and better finishing. We need a backup of Casemiro immediately. The second phase of this season is more important because there will be knockout matches of Champions League, Copa Del Rey , Spanish Super Cup. The La Liga championship is also there.
Bilbao have only conceded 12 times in La Liga this season, suggesting that this match will not be a high-scoring match particularly as the Red and Whites have only scored on 19 occasions in their 17 games during the 2019-20 La Liga campaign. For Bilbao, Ander Copa will be unavailable through suspension having picked up a booking against Eibar last weekend, while Yeray Alvarez, Oscar de Marcos, Iker Muniain and Aduriz are on the treatment table.
For Madrid, we will again miss the services of Marco Asensio, Lucas Vazquez, Eden Hazard and Marcelo through injury, while James Rodriguez remains on the sidelines despite stepping up his recovery from a knee problem by taking part in training this week.
The match between Real Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao will kick off on 22nd December, 2019 , Sunday at 09:00 P.M. C.E.T at Santiago Bernabeu. Adrian Cordero will be the referee.
Goalkeepers: Courtois, Areola, and Altube.
Defenders: Carvajal, Militao, Varane, Ramos, Nacho and Mendy.
Midfielders: Modric, Valverde, and Isco.
Attackers: Benzema, Jovic , Bale, Brahim, Vinicius Jr. and Rodrygo.
( 4-4-2 ) Courtois-Carvajal, Varane , Ramos, Mendy-Valverde, Modric, Kroos, Isco-Rodrygo, Benzema.
Thibaut Courtois will start for us against Bilbao. He has finally arrived in the club. Courtois showed a good exhibit against Barcelona. The goals of matches in which he conceded, was the shear mistakes from Sergio Ramos and Varane. He is good overall and is improving day by day.
Ramos and Varane will most probably start against Bilbao. He was exceptional against Barcelona. Both of them will continue their forms and stand solid against attacking line of Bilbao. Raul Garcia tussle with Sergio Ramos will keep the Match alive in Madrid’s penalty area. Carvajal and Mendy will be the only natural left backs in the squad and will start the match.
Valverde, Kroos and Modric will the sure starters from Madrid in the midfield. It is up to Zidane to either include Isco in the line-up or go with an extra winger. When Isco plays, Real Madrid domination from midfield through pressing will be more on opposition teams. The rise of Isco is a thing to mention here because Isco dropped from starting eleven in the start of the season. He believed himself and became regular in the starting line-up and seems as a crucial prospect in the coming season after the Christmas break.
Real Madrid attacking line? The first name comes in the mind that is the Frenchman, Karim Benzema. Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema has been involved in more goals against Bilbao in La Liga than against any other opponent (16, 11 goals and five assists). Indeed, against no other side has the Frenchman scored more La Liga goals than versus them (11, level with Granada). Moreover, Karim Benzema has been directly involved in nine of Real Madrid’s last 10 goals at Santiago Bernabeu in all competitions (six goals and three assists).
Bale played good game against Barcelona this week. There is a chance that he may start the match but I think Rodrygo will start on the right flank. Rodrygo also need game time but I think he will take time as he is already growing and showed a great improvement in himself. On the other hand, Vinicius is also strong contender to play at left wing. He showed good display of his game against Brugge started.
From the bench, Brahim Diaz is in the squad who can come and play some minutes. Brahim Diaz played some matches in the last season. Zidane held his loan but unfortunately he had been injured in the pre season. He has been in and out of the squad from the start of the season. Similarly, The case of Jovic not getting any time is because Karim Benzema is in the prime form of his game. Although with limited opportunities he gained, he could not converted the chances into goals. Zidane has to really find the solution of both of these players. As Copa Del Rey is coming, so there is a chance that both will play these matches.
Real Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao-Tactical Match Preview:
Brazil international Casemiro is suspended after picking up a booking against Barca. Luka Modric could return alongside Federico Valverde and Toni Kroos in midfield. There is also likely to be a change in the final third with Rodrygo Goes pushing to replace Gareth Bale. Isco is expected to keep his spot having impressed against Barcelona.
The visitors will be far from at full strength heading into this match. Raul Garcia could again start in the centre-forward position with support from Inaki Williams and Inigo Cordoba in the wide areas. They will surely miss their injured players. However, their goalkeeper Unai Simon is in great form. He has 8 clean sheet this season. He will be a huge threat for us in the opposition.
Athletic will try to built their attacking base on playing through the flanks with most of their passes directed towards the players positioned out wide. They will try to beat the our opposing fullbacks through numerical superiority, combinational play. They attempt to drag defenders out of position and get in behind them with swift ball and player movement into the spaces left exposed but they will not entertained by their first team players this time.
In the defense, they will make 2-4-5 formation to limit the pressure of Madrid. They will have to cope with heavy counter pressing of Madrid when they have the ball. Casemiro presence in the eleven matters a lot for Madrid. Valverde will do his role in his absence. If Isco plays this match, there will be huge pressing on Bilbao from the midfield and Bilbao should be aware of it.
Alternatively, if Zidane plays 4-3-3 with Vinicius then It will be test for Lekue on left flank to match his pace. With Modric, the probability of chances creation will be much increased. We will see many crosses from the both flanks of Real Madrid. Madrid have players who plays well in the air despite not having Ronaldo.
Real Madrid 2-0 Athletic Bilbao, although It will not be very easy task for Los Blancos but considering the recent match form , I fancy our chances of winning and end 2019 with a win.
We will have to try to get 3 points against Bilbao. Well Guys, this is it from Real Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao Preview. Let us know your thoughts and feedback in the comments below. We shall meet soon with the Review of the game. Until next time, Hala Madrid!