Athletic Club vs Atletico Madrid: Preview and Prediction

Atletico Madrid will have to come back from a goal down and defeat Athletic Club away from home to earn a spot in the Copa del Rey final.

Athletic Club could make it to their first Copa del Rey final since 2021 if they manage to get past Atletico Madrid at San Mames in the second leg of their semi-final tie. The home team already have an advantage, and they just need to ensure they do not hammered on their own turf.

The first leg between the two teams ended in favour of Athletic Club, who travelled to the capital and managed to bring home a 1-0 lead. Alex Berenguer’s 25th-minute penalty was enough to separate the two teams a few weeks back.

A draw or a win will be enough for the home team to get to the final and try to lift the Copa del Rey for the first time since 1983/84. Athletic Club have avoided defeat in each of their last 14 home games, and they could draw inspiration from those performances.

Since beating Atletico Madrid, they have been a bit inconsistent. The home team played out a draw against Almeria, then beat Girona before losing to Real Betis. They will have to put together a much better performance than they did last time out to come out on top here.

Meanwhile, the visitors have struggled since their defeat at the hands of Athletic Club. After the loss in the first leg, they were defeated by Sevilla. While Diego Simeone’s team did bounce back with an incredible 5-0 win over Las Palmas, they have since lost to Inter Milan 1-0 and played out a draw against Almeria.

They have been inconsistent throughout the campaign, and their recent performances are proof of that. Simeone’s team will have to play their best football to come back from a goal behind and make it to the final. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams and tries to predict the tactics they could put to use.

Team News & Tactics

Athletic Club

The visitors will be without the services of Yuri Berchiche after the player picked up a hamstring injury in their last outing against Real Betis. Meanwhile, they are considering the idea of keeping Ander Herrera in the squad despite him not being 100%.

Yeray Alvarez remains a doubt, while Nico Williams is still available despite the red card that he received in their last outing because the suspension is only applicable in La Liga. They will go ahead with the 4-2-3-1 formation, where Julen Agirrezabala will be in goal ahead of Unai Simon.

Oscar de Marcos and Imanol Garcia de Albeniz will be the full-back pairing, while Aitor Paredes and Dani Vivian will take charge in the heart of the defence. Inigo Ruiz de Galarreta will feature alongside Benat Prados Diaz in the centre of the park. The duo will form the double pivot, look to shield the back four and ensure they dominate the proceedings.

Inaki Williams and Nico Williams will feature on the flanks. Both brothers will look to provide width to their attacks and link up, with Oihan Sancet who will feature as the attacking midfielder in behind striker Gorka Guruzeta.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Agirrezabala; De Marcos, Vivian, Paredes, Garcia de Albeniz; Prados, Ruiz de Galarreta; Inaki Williams, Sancet, Nico Williams; Guruzeta

Athletic Club vs Atletico Madrid Predicted XI

Atletico Madrid

Cesar Azpilicueta, Jose Maria Gimenez, and Thomas Lemar are all unavailable for this fixture. Meanwhile, the biggest concern for the away team is the availability of Antoine Griezmann, who faces a race against time to be fit for this one.

Diego Simeone is expected to make a few changes to the XI that started in their previous outing with Axel Witsel, Mario Hermoso, Marcos Llorente, and Alvaro Morata all expected to come into the starting XI.

It will be a 3-5-2 formation, where Jan Oblak will be in goal, and the back three will be made up of Witsel, Hermoso, and Stefan Savic. The back three will look for a clean sheet, and they will hope they have the support of Llorente and Samuel Lino, who will be the wing-backs for this one.

While they will look to join the attack at every possible opportunity, their priority will be to keep it tight at the back and ensure they do not add to their 1-0 advantage. Rodrigo De Paul, Koke and Pablo Barrios will take charge in the centre of the park. The trio will look to control the tempo of the game and ensure the visitors have most of the ball. With Griezmann still a doubt, Angel Correa should start alongside Alvaro Morata in attack.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Oblak; Savic, Witsel, Hermoso; Llorente, De Paul, Koke, Barrios, Lino; Correa, Morata

Athletic Club vs Atletico Madrid Predicted XI

Key Stats

  • Athletic Club and Atletico Madrid have faced each other 196 times; Los Rojiblancos have won 90 matches, while the Basque outfit only have 73 wins to their name.
  • The home team has a better track record in the Copa del Rey. In their 17 meetings, Athletic Club have won eight, while the Atletico Madrid have won seven times.
  • Athletic Club have already won twice against Atletico Madrid this season. A 2-0 home win in the league and then a 1-0 away win in the first leg.
  • Ernesto Valverde’s team have been unbeaten at home since losing 2-0 to Real Madrid at home on the opening day of the season.
  • Diego Simeone’s men have only won one out of their last six away games against Athletic Club.

Player to Watch

Nico Williams

Embed from Getty Images

The 21-year-old Spanish winger stands out as the one to watch in this crucial matchup. With an impressive season tally of five goals and ten assists in 26 matches, he has proven his attacking prowess and earned recognition at the international level. Williams’s speed and dribbling ability pose a significant threat to Atletico Madrid’s defence, making him a key player for the home team that seeks to secure their place in the Copa del Rey final.


Athletic Club 1-1 Atletico Madrid

Athletic Club are heading into this fixture with a 1-0 lead from the first leg, and they have an impressive home record which makes their position even stronger. Despite Atletico Madrid’s recent struggles and potential player absences, they are expected to fight hard.

However, the home team’s momentum and the advantage of playing in their own backyard could be decisive. The Hard Tackle predicts a 1-1 draw in the second leg, which will see the home team head into the final with the scoreline of 2-1.

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