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    La Liga Preview: Athletic Bilbao - Sevilla

    Ali Swaidan
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    La Liga Preview: Athletic Bilbao - Sevilla

    Post by Ali Swaidan on Sat Feb 28, 2009 6:45 am

    It is often strange how teams meeting in a cup competition end up facing each other in a league match either immediately before or after the clash. We witnessed it last month in the English Premier League, with Everton and Liverpool facing off twice within a week, and now Athletic Bilbao and Sevilla lock horns for points before their Copa Del Rey second leg fixture on Wednesday evening..

    Sevilla won the first leg 2-1 thanks to a last-minute Lautaro Acosta strike, and Saturday’s fixture is a dress rehearsal at San Mames. The method of approach for both sides to the league match is an intriguing one, given that both have nothing really left to play for.

    Athletic Bilbao’s season started dreadfully, winning just one of their first eight matches, before a dramatic turnaround saw them dreaming of qualifying for next season's Europa League. However they have won just one of their last five matches in the Primera Division, and given their mid-table position their most likely route into European competition is to win the Copa Del Rey. It is likely coach Joaquin Caparros will look to rest stars such as Fernando Llorente and Francisco Yeste to keep them fresh.

    Manolo Jiminez, too, will be wary of his players picking up knocks before such an important match. An early UEFA Cup exit, losing to Sampdoria in the final group match, is the only real low point in Sevilla’s season so far, at least on paper; the Andalusian side's supporters have been spoiled by the high standard of free-flowing football they have been treated to in recent times, and they have been openly critical of Jiminez’s more reserved philosophy, which has reduced the goals for column considerably.

    Just 32 goals scored domestically is not a huge total given that we are now at week 25 of the campaign – Frederic Kanoute and Luis Fabiano alone scored close to double that tally between them last season.

    However, there can be no denying that Sevilla are the third best team in Spain at the moment, and given a little consistency, could have perhaps challenged Real Madrid for second place. Barring catastrophe, they should comfortably finish in the top four, which means Jiminez may also place heavy emphasis on the cup tie when selecting his side.

    However, there is the opposite side of the coin. Playing strongly in the league match and securing a victory could give the winning side a huge psychological boost knowing that they can get the better of their opponents, and so both coaches will also have this to consider when selecting their teams.

    Athletic enjoy playing at San Mames, with their highlight an excellent 3-2 win over Valencia last month that typified their recent never-say-die attitude; Sevilla will need to pull out all the stops if they are the leave the Basque region with all three points.

    Ultimately though, the team selections will be key to determining whether this match will be a blood and thunder battle for the win, or a cagey stroll in the sunshine with the big match on the horizon.



    Feb 22 Getafe 1-1 Athletic (LA LIGA)
    Feb 15 Athletic 1-1 Recreativo (LA LIGA)
    Feb 08 Valladolid 2-1 Athletic (LA LIGA)
    Feb 04 Sevilla 2-1 Athletic (LA LIGA)
    Jan 31 Athletic 3-2 Malaga (LA LIGA)


    Feb 21 Sevilla 1-0 Atletico Madrid (LA LIGA)
    Feb 15 Espanyol 0-2 Sevilla (LA LIGA)
    Feb 07 Sevilla 1-2 Real Betis (LA LIGA)
    Feb 04 Sevilla 2-1 Athletic (COPA DEL REY)
    Feb 01 Sporting 1-0 Sevilla (LA LIGA)



    Midfielder Javi Martinez has recovered from a shin injury and will be fit for the match, while Joesba Del Olmo will definitely miss out due to a foot injury. With Athletic sitting comfortably in mid-table, how committed will Caparros be to this fixture with the Copa Del Rey semi final second leg around the corner?

    Probable XI: Iraizoz, Etxeitia, Ocio, Del Campo, Iraola, Martinez, Orbaiz, Yeste, Susaeta, Llorente, Velez


    Luis Fabiano is a major doubt for the match following his recovery from a foot injury, and luckless fellow forward Chevanton may need a knee operation to sort his troublesome cartilage problem.
    Striker Arouna Kone and David Navarro remain long term problems.

    Probable XI: Palop, Prieto, Squillaci, Romaric, Adriano, Mosquea, Maresca, Navas, Kanoute, Perotti



    This is much depending on their starting line-up, but Javi Martinez is developing into a cultured midfielder at San Mames, chipping in with three goals when Bilbao’s season appeared to be confining them to a relegation battle. He has an excellent range of passing, and is a valuable addition to the Basque side's squad.


    Sevilla’s undoubted player of the moment is winger Jesus Navas. Now in his fifth season at the club, he is arguably going through his most fruitful spell. Still only 23 he also has a long future ahead of him yet. He has skipped past left-backs with ease recently, and crucially, his final ball is reaching a level of consistency that makes him one of the division's most feared attackers.


    A tricky one this. With Sevilla holding the relative security of third place and Bilbao stuck in mid-table, this match is not really a concern for either coach. However, the chance to stake your claim for a final slot starts here, and a positive result could push either into the role of favourites. However, a draw may be the most likely outcome.

    Athletic 1-1 Sevilla

      Current date/time is Fri Jan 18, 2019 1:48 pm