Athletic Bilbao – Alaves
When Ernesto Valverde left Athletic to join Barcelona, it was clear that Athletic would have some problems. Valverde is one of the best Spanish managers and it was a great loss for the Basques to lose him. His work at Barca is a solid proof for his capabilities. It’s safe to say that Athletic are still trying to deal with losing Valverde, even if his heir Jose Angel Ziganda is doing the best he can for the team.
Right now Athletic are 12th in the La Liga standings, which is dissapointing for a club with their traditions and ambition. Of course, this position could be improved with just a few wins, but the question is – will these wins come?
Right now the Basques have 21 points and a record of 5 wins, 6 draws and 6 losses. But we should say they are playing really good lately. Athletic are unbeaten in their last five matches, winning two of them. Including against Real Betis in the last round.
Meanwhile now they are about to face Deportivo Alaves – a team which is locked in a really tough fight for survival. Alaves are currently 17th in La Liga, with only goal difference allowing them to be above Deportivo La Coruna and the relegation zone.
Just like Athletic, Deportivo Alaves are struggling after the leaving of their former manager Mauricio Pelegrino, who went to England to manage Southampton. Last season Pelegrino led Alaves to the final of Copa del Rey.
Athletic Bilbao are the clear favourite against Alaves. They are in a great form lately, so we shall expect to see them winning this one.