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Villarreal vs Athletic Bilbao Prediction & Match Preview

Villarreal vs Athletic Bilbao
Spain – La Liga
Date: Tuesday, 22 December 2020
Kick-off at 21:00 UK/ 22:00 CET
Venue: Estadio de la Ceramica.

Unai Emery’s impressive Villarreal are launching a title race. They will have Europa League football from February onwards but their squad is deceptively big as it is.

A Villarreal league title win would be unlikely but, week-by-week, they get taken more seriously. A 3-1 win away to an admittedly poor Osasuna extended their unbeaten run to 16 matches in all competitions.

Athletic had a 2-0 win last time out against Huesca in a game they probably shaded but a Huesca red card, Athletic penalty and late clincher wasn’t necessarily convincing.

A victory for Villarreal would be huge but their lack of victories so far this season is what has hurt them - only Huesca have drawn more games than them.

However, their underlying data is encouraging to suggest this isn’t a flash in the pan whilst Athletic’s xG and xGA being less than their goals scored and conceded highlight an inconsistency reflected throughout their campaign. Villarreal to win and under 3.5 goals looks a value bet.

Villarreal vs Athletic Bilbao: Head-to-head (h2h)

Teams Villarreal Athletic Bilbao played so far 42 matches.
Villarreal won 17 direct matches. Athletic Bilbao won 13 matches. 12 matches ended in a draw. On average in direct matches both teams scored a 2.48 goals per Match.

Villarreal vs Athletic Bilbao: Prediction

Villarreal in actual season average scored 1.92 goals per match. In 12 (92.31%) matches played at home was total goals (team and opponent) Over 1.5 goals. In 8 (61.54%) matches in season 2020 played at home was total goals (team and opponent) Over 2.5 goals.

Athletic Bilbao average scored 1.33 goals per match in season 2020. In 11 (78.57%) matches played away was total goals (team and opponent) Over 1.5 goals. In 9 (64.29%) matches played away team was total goals (team and opponent) Over 2.5 goals.

Team News:

Villarreal will have Alfonso Pedraza available following a one-game suspension, but Francis Coquelin, Vicente Iborra, Paco Alcacer and Alberto Moreno are still on the sidelines for the Yellow Submarine.

Carlos Bacca remains a doubt, meanwhile, meaning that it could be a similar side to the one that took to the field against Osasuna on Saturday.

Moi Gomez is in line to feature in a midfield position, but Fer Nino should keep his spot in the final third of the field alongside Gerard Moreno, who netted a brace against the league's basement side.

Jaume Costa could also come in for Pervis Estupinan, who is a doubt due to the issue that he picked up in the first half of Saturday's clash.

As for Athletic, Peru Nolaskoain remains on the sidelines through injury, but Raul Garcia and Yeray Alvarez are available, having served one-match suspensions against Huesca.

Yeray should return to the back four, but Garcia could start on the bench, with Asier Villalibre potentially leading an attack which should also include Iker Muniain, Inaki Williams and Alex Berenguer.

Oscar de Marcos and Unai Lopez are options for change, but Ander Capa should keep his spot at right-back while Mikel Vesga is expected to retain his position in the middle of the park.

Villarreal possible starting lineup:
Asenjo; Gaspar, Albiol, Torres, Costa; Trigueros, M Gomez, Parejo; G Moreno, Nino, Pedraza

Athletic Bilbao possible starting lineup:
Simon; Capa, Yeray, Martinez, Yuri; D Garcia, Vesga; Williams, Muniain, Berenguer; Villalibre