Athletic Bilbao and Espanyol will meet on Friday evening with both side’s focused on moving up the La Liga table.
Both sides have suffered inconsistent form this term with the visitors having enjoyed a superb start to the season, whilst Athletic struggled – but recent results have improved, allowing both sides to look at a potential European place.
A win for either at San Mames on Friday evening could see them move to 8th place and put pressure on the likes of Real Betis, Valencia and Sevilla.
Espanyol are in slightly better form, having not lost in their last five games, which include two wins, whilst Athletic have lost two in their last five, but have also won two.
Given the tightness of La Liga this season, both side’s will treat this game as a must-win, hoping they can steer away from the relegation battlers with Villarreal sitting on 23 points.
Inigo Lekue is slowly getting back to fitness after a long-term injury problem, but Athletic shouldn’t make any sweeping changes here. Markel Susaeta and Ibai Gomez will battle it out for a start on the right wing for the hosts. Oscar de Marcos will continue at right-back in Ander Capa’s absence.
Borja Iglesias and Sergi Darder are both out injured for the away side, taking a big chunk of creativity with them. David Lopez underwent an operation this week that is expected to rule the defender out until October. Lluís Lopez should be preferred at centre-back to Naldo, while Hernan Perez and Victor Sanchez are expected to come into the side.
Athletic: Herrerin, De Marcos, Alvarez, Martinez, Yuri, Garcia, Benat, Garcia, Muniain, Susaeta, Williams
Espanyol: Lopez, Rosales, Hermoso, Lopez, Vila, Sanchez, Roca, Granero, Perez, Melendo, Lei
Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Espanyol