Athletic Bilbao aims to get back on track in Spain’s premier league by hosting Mallorca at San Mames on Friday night.
The team from the Basque region is currently ranked fifth in the La Liga standings, with 42 points from 22 games, while Mallorca is in 15th place, just four points clear of the relegation zone.
Athletic is in the hunt for trophies this year, reaching the Copa del Rey semi-finals. Their semi-final first leg against Atletico Madrid is scheduled for February 7.
Under Ernesto Valverde, they are also competing for a top-four finish in La Liga, having secured 42 points from 22 matches thanks to 12 victories, six draws, and four defeats.
Sitting fifth, just two points behind fourth-placed Barcelona, Athletic has struggled lately, with only one point from their recent two matches, following a loss to Valencia and a draw with Cadiz.
Playing at home on Friday, where they’ve won eight out of 11 games, will be a welcome change for Athletic. They haven’t finished in the top four for a decade and have not beaten Mallorca in their last four league encounters, including a draw earlier this season.
Mallorca, on the other hand, has found the current season challenging, positioned 15th. Winning has been difficult, with only three victories from 22 league matches, but they have drawn 11 times, making them the draw experts of the league.
Like Athletic, Mallorca is in the Copa del Rey semi-finals, facing Real Sociedad on February 6. Despite this, they must focus on the league to avoid relegation, especially coming off a 1-0 loss to Real Betis.
After finishing ninth last season, Mallorca now faces the possibility of a relegation battle as the season progresses.
Athletic Bilbao La Liga Form: W W W W L D
Athletic Bilbao Form (All Competitions): W W W L W D
Mallorca La Liga Form: D W L D D L
Mallorca Form (All Competitions): W D W D W L
Athletic will likely be without Alex Berenguer and Inigo Ruiz de Galarreta but have no new injuries. Expect changes from their last game, with Oihan Sancet, Nico Williams, and Gorka Guruzeta starting.
Unai Gomez, Malcom Adu, and Asier Villalibre might sit out, but Ander Herrera should remain in midfield.
Mallorca will miss Pablo Maffeo due to a knee injury, and Samu Costa is doubtful after an early exit in their last match.
Omar Mascarell, who replaced Costa, is set to start, alongside Vedat Muriqi, who is returning from a calf injury.
Possible Starting Lineups:
Athletic Bilbao: (4-2-3-1)
De Marcos, Vivian, Yeray, Lekue;
I. Williams, Sancet, N. Williams;
Gonzalez, Valjent, Raillo, Nastasic, Lato;
Morlanes, Mascarell, Darder;
Prediction: Athletic Bilbao 2-1 Mallorca
Muriqi’s comeback could be key for Mallorca, and his scoring wouldn’t be surprising. However, Athletic is eager to win again in La Liga, and we predict they’ll secure a victory on Friday night.