Athletic Club vs Real Sociedad Match Preview & Predictions

Cartuja
Cartuja via V&A Dudush - Panoramio, CC BY 3.0

Athletic Club vs Real Sociedad match preview and predictions for Saturday’s Copa del Rey showdown. Read on for the head-to-head, team news and predicted lineups ahead of the long awaited Basque derby final.

Date Saturday 3rd April 2021
Kick-Off 21:30 (local time)
Stadium Cartuja
Competition Copa del Rey

Athletic Club vs Real Sociedad Preview


Athletic Club vs Real Sociedad Copa del Rey

It’s finally here. 13 months have passed since Athletic Club and Real Sociedad won their 2019/20 Copa del Rey Semi-Finals and on Saturday the longest ever wait for a Spanish Cup Final ends as this historic all-Basque affair takes place in Seville. 

Never before have the two biggest Basque clubs faced off in the Copa del Rey Final and sadly this great occasion will ultimately take place behind closed doors. Both clubs agreed to delay the original Final scheduled for last April, in the hope that supporters would be able to attend. They even agreed to give up a potential place in Europe which was deferred to the 7th team in LaLiga, and it will be a slightly bittersweet evening on Saturday in some respects, but there will certainly be no shortage of passion.

Athletic Club have perhaps benefited more from the delay. Had this game taken place last season or even earlier in this one as was briefly muted, they’d certainly have been clear underdogs. The January appointment of Marcelino though does appear to have revitalised them and they’ll take great confidence from having already won a trophy in this stadium in 2021 with their victory over Barcelona clinching the Supercopa in January.

Their cup joy has continued in the 2020/21 Copa del Rey too and they will be back here in a fortnight to play this year’s Cup Final. Marcelino is remarkably still technically the holder of it having won the 2019 edition with Valencia so it’s a chance for both him and his club to really write their name in the history books by completing a quite unique feat.

Real Sociedad will have other ideas. They are 5th in LaLiga, 10 points better off than their Basque rivals and on paper have what most would perceive to be the more talented squad. While it was only 1-0, they were relatively comfortable winners at San Mames in late December, the only previous meeting of the teams this season – yet they don’t feel like the strong favourites they perhaps should be heading into this game.

That’s in part because they have regularly failed to turn their dominance of matches into results and they have often underdelivered in the bigger games this season, exiting the Europa League with a heavy defeat to Manchester United while they were hammered 6-1 at home by Barcelona last time out – hardly the ideal preparation for this game.


Head to Head

  • Last 6 Competitive Meetings: 5 Real Sociedad Wins, 1 Athletic Win.
  • La Real won 1-0 earlier in the season when the sides met in Bilbao.
  • Athletic’s only victory during the last 6 meetings saw them win 2-0 in Bilbao in August 2019.
  • Real Sociedad have won all of the last 3 meetings in San Sebastian.

Team News

Athletic will stick with their usual 4-4-2 and their side should pick itself with the exception of the central midfield positions where there is more competition with Mikel Vesga also hoping to start.

La Real are expected to have David Silva fit again and should be able to name a stronger XI than the one that played against Barcelona a fortnight ago.

Predicted Athletic Starting Lineup:

Simon – Yuri, Martinez, Yeray, De Marcos – Muniain, Unai Lopez, Dani Garcia, Berenguer – Williams, Raul Garcia (4-4-2)

Predicted Real Sociedad Starting Lineup:

Remiro – Gorosabel, Zubeldia, Le Normand, Monreal – Illarramendi, Merino, Silva – Oyarzabal, Isak, Portu (4-3-3)


Athletic Club vs Real Sociedad Predictions

LaLiga Expert Predicts: Athletic Club 1-1 Real Sociedad (90 minutes) – Athletic to win in Extra Time  (follow us on Tipstrr to view our betting tips)

It’s hard to see this being anything but a closely contested game and it’s tough to pick a favourite here. However, you just feel as though Athletic are the side more likely to get over the line and get the job done if it goes past 90 minutes, which seems highly possible. They’ve been taken to Extra Time so many times already this season and they’ve got a terrific record having scored Extra Time winners in the Supercopa Final and Copa del Rey Semi-Final and their extra experience might just be telling too against what is largely a youthful Real Sociedad side.

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Cartuja Image via V&A Dudush, CC BY 3.0

Spanish football writer
About Mark Sochon 1602 Articles
Mark is a freelance writer based in Madrid. He has also lived in Seville and Barcelona and has written extensively about Spanish football. His work has been published by the likes of Guardian Sport & World Soccer.