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Villarreal CF--Athletic Bilbao PREVIEW

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I guess Marcelino figured out who was at fault in Austria on Thursday, as both Bonera and Jokic are out of the squad for this match--so too Samuel Garcia.

Welcome back, Capi.
Welcome back, Capi.
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Head to Head: Villarreal all-time record vs Athletic Club: League, 30 matches played, 14-8-8, 44 goals for, 33 against.

Biggest Villarreal victory: 5-2 (home, 2001-02), 4-1 (home, 2010-11; away, 2008-09)

Biggest Villarreal loss: 0-4 (away, 2014-15)

Last away win in this series: Athletic 0-1 Villarreal, 2010-11

ROBIN'S TAKE:

Villarreal return to the league to face a high flying Bilbao

After putting up a hard fight in Europe this week. Villarreal will be looking to fight back against long term rivals Aletico Bilbao.

Rapid Vienna were given two easy goals in the second half that led to a resounding defeat. However the Austrian side were our first real threat this season and 2-1 is not a score to be ashamed of.

The yellow submarine is now looking to surface against Bilbao who have always been a threat to the yellows for fourth place and the Europa League.  The Basque team will not just be just a threat this weekend but also in Europe after their strong 3-1 win over Augsburg this week.

Villarreal squad

Roberto Soldado will return after being given a break on Thursday while Eric Bailly will also be available after a one-match ban during the week

Goalkeepers: Barbosa, Areola.
Defenders: Mario, Rukavina, Jaume Costa, Víctor Ruiz and Eric Bailly.
Midfields: Bruno, Jonathan dos Santos, Pina, Trigueros, Denis Suárez, Samu Castillejo and Nahuel.
Strikers: Adrián, Bakambu, Soldado and Baptistao.

Athletic Bilbao (Athletic Club): Los Leones had the high of winning the Super Cup over Barcelona based on their 4-0 dominance at home, but now the season proper has started, they have played well at home, not so well on the road.  Iker Muinain is still out, and they rely a lot an Aritz Aduriz, but he has been in form, with two goals at home against Augsburg on Thursday.

Their team is: Iraizoz, Laporte, Eraso, San Jose, Beñat, Kike Sola, De Marcos, Iago Herrerin, Susaeta, X.Etxeita, Mikel Rico, Gurpegi, Aduriz, Raul Garcia, Aketxe, Balenziaga, Sabin Merino, I.Lekue.


Villarreal have not kept a clean sheet yet this season, which is worrying, and the central defensive pairing of Bailly and Ruiz will have to do well against the height of Aduriz.   Bruno returns after suspension and hopefully will be able to impose himself in midfield as usual.

Prediction: Villarreal usually do pretty well against these guys in El Madrigal; key matchup for me will be in defensive midfield--if we can create chances through midfield for our guys the Athletic defense will pick up a lot of yellow cards and give up good chances to the in-form Roberto Soldado--and Ruiz/Bailly against Aduriz.  These are both good teams, finished next to each other in the standings last year.

ALLEN:Villarreal will win, 2-1.

ROBIN: After our 3-1 victory against Granada last weekend we are now in fourth place a position we will be hoping to keep by the end of the season. My prediction 1-0 to Villarreal