Real Madrid vs Athletic Club: Preview and Prediction

League leaders Real Madrid will look to continue their dominant run when they host fourth-placed Athletic Club at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Athletic Club, who are fighting for a top-four finish, will hit the road to square up against Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid on Sunday. A win here will help the visitors retain their spot. But a defeat could see them drop out of the top four.

Real Madrid sit top of the table with 72 points in their 29 outings. They have only lost once in the league and that defeat back in September last year. It has been a dominant display by the team in white and they will look to continue in a similar fashion.

While they did drop points on quite a few occasions in the recent past, they were back at their best before heading into the break and will look to pick up from where they left off. In their last two outings, Madrid scored four goals each and claimed all three points. Los Blancos will look for something similar here.

Athletic Club are currently fourth with 56 points in their 29 outings but they are closely followed by Atletico Madrid who are just one point behind. A slip-up here could see them lose the top-four spot. As a result, they will be determined to get the better of Ancelotti’s team.

Since suffering a defeat at the hands of Getafe in late February, they have turned things around and have been on a dominating. They went past Atletico to reach the Copa del Rey final and after playing out a draw against Barcelona they have won their last two league games. The visitors will be confident of giving Real Madrid a run for their money.

Meanwhile, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams and tries to predict the tactics they could deploy.

Team News & Tactics

Real Madrid

Thibaut Courtois and David Alaba are sidelined with injuries. Eder Militao could make a return to their squad, but he is unlikely to be risked anytime soon. Eduardo Camavinga, Jude Bellingham, and Federico Valverde all returned to full training on Friday and should be fit to start here despite the recent concerns.

Meanwhile, Vinicius Junior is suspended following a milestone yellow. Carlo Ancelotti will stick to the 4-4-2 formation, where Andriy Lunin will be in goal. Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy will be the full-backs. We could see Nacho return to the heart of the defence and pair up with Antonio Rudiger.

Aurelien Tchouameni, who has been used as a centre-back on multiple occasions, should feature as a defensive midfielder here. He will have the support of Valverde and Toni Kroos, with Camavinga expected to come off the bench. Since Jude Bellingham is now back available, he will be the number ten, and Brahim Diaz will move up to take Vinicius’s place alongside Rodrygo.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Lunin; Carvajal, Nacho, Rudiger, Mendy; Valverde, Tchouameni, Kroos; Bellingham; Rodrygo, Brahim Diaz

Real Madrid vs Athletic Club Predicted XI

Athletic Club

Yuri Berchiche is out injured, while the trio of Aitor Paredes, Ander Herrera, and Inigo Ruiz de Galarreta will be subject to a late fitness test before they get the green light to feature in this fixture.

The visitors will line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, where Unai Simon will be in goal. Oscar de Marcos and Inigo Lekue will feature as full-backs. Dani Vivian will start alongside Yeray Alvarez in the heart of the defence. The back four will look to keep a star-studded Real Madrid attack quiet.

Dani Garcia and Benat Prados Diaz will pair up in the centre of the park. They will look to shield the backline and try to ensure Madrid midfielders do not end up dominating the ball too deep in their half. Inaki Williams and Nico Williams will provide the width of their attacks. Oihan Sancet will be the attacking midfielder, while Gorka Guruzeta will be leading the line for the visitors.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Simon; De Marcos, Vivian, Yeray, Lekue; Benat, D Garcia; I Williams, Sancet, N Williams; Guruzeta

Real Madrid vs Athletic Club Predicted XI

Key Stats

  • The visitors, who are currently fourth, have not finished in a Champions League spot in the last ten years.
  • Last season when the two teams met at the Bernabeu, Athletic Club managed to hold Real Madrid to a 1-1 draw.
  • The reverse fixture ended in favour of Real Madrid (2-0).
  • Los Blancos have been unbeaten in the league since September.
  • Real Madrid have the best defence (20 goals conceded) and the best attack in the league (64 goals).

Player to Watch

Brahim Diaz

Embed from Getty Images

Diaz has done wonders for Real Madrid in the limited minutes that he has got in the ongoing season. He might have featured in 33 matches but he has been on the pitch for just over 1,500 minutes.

The new Moroccan international has been asked to step up in the absence of their regular stars, and the 24-year-old has not disappointed. Diaz has nine goals and four assists and will look to add to it when he starts up top in the absence of Vinicius.


Real Madrid 3-1 Athletic Club

Athletic Club have been in sensational form of late and they will surely be confident heading into this fixture. But, given the kind of firepower Real Madrid have and the kind of form they have been in, stopping them might still be beyond their reach.

Jude Bellingham will be hungry to once again get his name on the scoresheet and with Diaz and Rodrygo up top, they do seem to be the favourites. The Hard Tackle predicts a 3-1 win for Los Blancos.

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