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Atletico Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao: Two Top-four Contenders Clash

Written by: Greg Lea
Updated February 16, 2023
12 min read
  • Atletico Madrid continues to stutter and they head into the weekend in fifth place
  • Almeria are two points above the relegation zone as they look to stay in La Liga
  • Atletico Madrid needs to bounce back this weekend - and we think they will do just that

Atletico Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao Odds

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Match Result 

Odds

Atletico Madrid

+100
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Draw

+210
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Athletic Bilbao

+270
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Atletico Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao Pick

Back Atletico Madrid to beat Athletic Bilbao in La Liga on Sunday. Diego Simeone’s side have a poor record at home this season and they must start to put that right.

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Atletico Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao Prediction

Atletico Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao Prediction

Atletico Madrid Would Have No Excuses for Missing Top Four

Atletico Madrid will have had a whole week to prepare for Sunday’s match against Athletic Bilbao. Ordinarily, that is a good thing. But the reason they have had a full seven days between their trip to Celta Vigo and this weekend’s game at the Civitas Metropolitano is that they are no longer in continental competition.

Atletico began the campaign as one of the outsiders to win the Champions League with the best online sportsbooks. The runners-up in 2014 and 2016 were overdue a run to the latter stages of the tournament, and some felt like this might be their year.

In fact, Atletico failed to make it beyond the group phase. Being picked out alongside Porto, Club Brugge and Bayer Leverkusen meant the Spanish side had been handed a relatively kind draw. Yet they won only one of their six matches and never really came close to advancing.

Worse still, Simeone’s side did not even manage to finish third in Group B. That would have seen them enter the Europa League, a competition they won in 2018 after dropping out of the Champions League. This time around, though, they only have La Liga left to play for in the second half of the season.

That is a pity. It also means that Atletico would have no excuses for missing out on the top four. They occupy fourth spot at present and hold a four-point advantage over Real Betis in fifth, but Simeone’s team have been pretty unconvincing for most of the campaign to date.

A five-game unbeaten run in La Liga suggests a corner has been turned, but that sequence includes draws with Almeria and Getafe, as well as slender 1-0 victories over Osasuna and Celta Vigo. There is still plenty of work for Atletico to do this season.

Athletic Bilbao End Losing Streak to Boost European Hopes

Athletic Bilbao are just about clinging on in the race for the top four. They occupied one of the Champions League qualification places when La Liga took its break for World Cup 2022, but a poor run of form last month sent the Basque outfit sliding down the standings.

Athletic failed to win any of their first five matches post-Qatar. Back-to-back draws with Real Betis and Osasuna were followed by a run of three consecutive losses last month, as Real Sociedad, Real Madrid and Celta Vigo all got the better of Athletic.

Another couple of defeats would have left Ernesto Valverde’s side down in mid-table, but they bounced back to beat Cadiz (4-1) and Valencia (2-1) in their first two February fixtures. That leaves Athletic six points behind Atletico in fourth. A win here would keep them in the conversation for the top four.

More likely, though, is that Athletic will qualify for either the Europa League or the Europa Conference League. They will find it tough to keep pace with the likes of Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid over the course of a 38-game campaign. 

The underlying statistics suggest Athletic are a little unfortunate not to be higher in the table. The expected goals data has them down as the third-best team in the division based on chances created and conceded, behind only Barcelona and Real Madrid. 

That should give Athletic confidence for the remainder of the season, but they will need to improve on the road if they are to mount a challenge for the top four. Sunday’s game in the capital would be a good place to start.

Atletico Madrid Need to Make the Metropolitano a Fortress Again

As mentioned above, Athletic’s record on their travels leaves a lot to be desired. They have won just three of their 10 matches at opposition stadiums this term. In their last eight games away from home, the Lehoiak have triumphed on just one occasion.

That solitary success came last weekend, as Athletic saw off Valencia at Mestalla. They will now be looking to build on that win when they travel to the Civitas Metropolitano, where Atletico have a puzzlingly poor record in 2022/23. 

Indeed, Simeone’s side rank 13th in the home table, having failed to win a majority of their 10 matches at their own ground. 

On this occasion, though, we fancy Atletico’s chances of getting over the line. They must make the Metropolitano a fortress again if they are to finish in the top four, especially as Real Sociedad’s excellent form means there might only be one more Champions League qualification spot up for grabs.

Atletico have played with greater focus in recent weeks, and Memphis Depay’s first goal for the club last time out will give the Dutchman confidence going forward. Back Atletico Madrid to get the better of Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

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How to Watch Atletico Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao

  • Teams: Atletico Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao
  • Location: Civitas Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain
  • Time: Sunday 19 February 2023, 12.30 PM EST
  • How to Watch: ESPN+
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AUTHOR

Greg Lea

786 Articles

Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]

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