First of all, here is Villarreal's squad:
- keepers: Areola, Barbosa.
- Defenders: Rukavina, Mario, Jaume Costa, Víctor Ruiz, Musacchio, Bonera.
- Midfielders: Bruno, Trigueros, Jonathan dos Santos, Nahuel, Denis Suárez, Castillejo, Rodri.
- Forwards: Leo Baptistao, Soldado, Bakambu.
The only change from the recent usual 18 is Tomas Pina drops off due to injury and young Rodri takes his place.
Athletic Bilbao has called up Iraizoz, Bóveda, Elustondo, Laporte, Eraso, San José, Beñat, Iturraspe, Iago Herrerín, Susaeta, Williams, X.Etxeita, Mikel Rico, Muniain, Aduriz, Balenziaga, Sabin Merino, I.Lekue.
De Marcos is suspended and Raul Garcia is out, which weakens their midfield.
All-time records: Not too bad: 10-4-2 at home, 5-4-6 away. Worst loss in San Mames was last year (4-0, last match of the season), biggest win was 4-1 (2008-09).
Athletic Club are really riding the coattails of Aduriz (13 goals at age 34), and Iñaki Williams (7 goals at age 21). Expect at least one of them to score , probably Aduriz.
Villarreal seem to be scoring better on the road than at home, perhaps because our ability to counterattack is more in evidence when the opposition doesn't have 8-9 players behind the ball. We'll need an excellent match from Denis Suarez and Manu Trigueros, who I expect will partner Bruno in midfield.
Prediction: Whoscored says 2-2; I'd be happy with that, so let's go with it. But we'll hope for all three points. Endavant Villarreal!!