Real Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao preview, predicted XI, team news and more
Fresh from their goalless stalemate against Barcelona in midweek, Real Madrid will host Athletic Bilbao at the Santiago Bernabeu with three points at stake.
The two sides have been among the most impressive in LaLiga this season, with Los Blancos sitting joint-top, while their visitors are in 7th position.
Real Madrid v Athletic Bilbao Head-to-Head
Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao are one of only three clubs to have been present in every season of LaLiga since its inception (alongside Barcelona) and as such, it comes as no surprise that this fixture is a regular in the Spanish calendar.
Matches between the two clubs are known as El Viejo Clásico and it is the second-most played match in Spanish football history behind El Clasico.
In total, Los Blancos have clashed with Los Leones on 231 occasions, with Real Madrid winning 114, while Bilbao have won 74 and 43 matches ended in a stalemate.
Furthermore, the capital club have scored 442 goals, while the Basque outfit have 322 goals to their name in all competitions against Real Madrid.
Real Madrid form guide: DDWWW
Athletic Bilbao form guide: DLWWW
Real Madrid v Athletic Bilbao Team News
Real Madrid have been hit with a spate of injuries throughout the season and Zinedine Zidane is still without the services of a number of key first-team players.
Long-term absentees like Marco Asensio (ACL), James Rodriguez (Medial Ligament), and Lucas Vazquez (Toe) are all still ruled out, in addition to Eden Hazard (Foot) and Marcelo (Calf).
Injuries: Marco Asensio, Lucas Vazquez, Eden Hazard, James Rodriguez, Marcelo
Real Madrid v Athletic Bilbao Predicted XI
Real Madrid Predicted XI: Thibaut Courtois; Ferland Mendy, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal; Toni Kroos, Fede Valverde, Isco; Rodrygo, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale
Real Madrid v Athletic Bilbao Prediction
Athletic Bilbao have steadily impressed as one of the more formidable teams in LaLiga but they have found the going tough against their historically significant rivals.
The Basque side are yet to taste victory over Real Madrid in any of their last eight matches and it would be a tall order expecting them to do so against Zinedine Zidane's men who would be eager to get back to winning ways after consecutive draws.
Los Blancos were more pragmatic in their draw with Barcelona and needed a last-minute intervention from Thibaut Courtois to rescue a point from the Mestalla against Valencia but they would come out all guns blazing at home to Bilbao.
The home side would, however, do well to keep their confidence in check, as Athletic Bilbao have more than enough players to harm them including Inaki Williams, Aritz Aduriz, and Ikier Munain and can go toe-to-toe with anyone in the league, evidenced by their opening day victory over Barcelona.
Verdict: Real Madrid 2-1 Athletic BilbaoPublished 20 Dec 2019, 14:48 IST