Athletic Club vs Villarreal predictions and match preview for Saturday’s LaLiga fixture. Read on for expert analysis, the head-to-head, team news and predicted lineups ahead of the standout fixture this Saturday in Spain.
|Saturday 23rd October 2021
|21:00 (local time)
Athletic Club vs Villarreal Preview
Athletic Club and Villarreal face off in one of several eye-catching fixtures this weekend in LaLiga. It’ll be a good test of the level Athletic are at and a chance to prove they are genuine European contenders this season while the visitors need a result after a sluggish start to their league campaign.
Athletic have made a solid start, losing just 1 of their opening 8 games. It hasn’t exactly been thrill a minute stuff but they don’t really have the players to play an open, expansive game and Marcelino is doing the best he can with the tools available to him. Just 4 goals conceded in those opening 8 fixtures certainly reflects well on their defensive structure with only Sevilla having conceded fewer so far this term in the Spanish top flight.
Their defensive resilience ought to get a real test here against a dangerous Villarreal side but Athletic should be able to call on their strongest XI with the exception of a couple of long-term absentees. They will look to get Iker Muniain, who has assisted three of their seven goals this season, on the ball as much as possible and may also feel they can be a threat from set-pieces.
Villarreal come to Bilbao with just 11 points from 8 matches so far, a poor return for a side of their quality. They highlighted how much attacking firepower they have with a dominant 4-1 win in the Champions League in midweek away to Young Boys. They have some important players fit again including Gerard Moreno and Samu Chukwueze who were both on target.
It’s going to be really interesting to see how Unai Emery sees his strongest eleven with everyone fit, particularly up top. Gerard Moreno looks a certain starter but the likes of Chukwueze, Yeremi Pina, Arnaut Danjuma, Boulaye Dia and Paco Alcacer will be competing fiercely for those other positions and there’s a case to be made for all of them.
Villarreal do need to start putting some league wins on the board following their first league defeat of the season last weekend at home to Villarreal, after they’d drawn 5 of their opening 7 matches.
Head to Head
- Last 6 Competitive Meetings: 1 Athletic Win, 1 Villarreal Win, 4 Draws.
- 4 of the last 5 meetings have been drawn.
- The only exception was a 1-0 Athletic win at San Mames in 2020.
- Villarreal haven’t beaten Athletic since a 3-0 win in Bilbao in September 2018.
Long-term absentees Peru Nolaskoain and Yuri Berchiche remain sidelined for Athletic. Unai Nunez is a doubt.
Boulaye Dia and Raul Albiol are Villarreal’s injury doubts and it’s likely neither will be risked given the busy schedule which will call for rotation in any case.
Predicted Athletic Starting Lineup:
Simon – Balenciaga, Martinez, Vivian, Lekue – Muniain, Garcia, Vencedor, Berenguer – R. Garcia, Williams (4-4-2)
Predicted Villarreal Starting Lineup:
Rulli – Moreno, Torres, Mandi, Foyth – Parejo, Capoue, Trigueros – Danjuma, Gerard Moreno, Pino (4-3-3)
Athletic Club vs Villarreal Predictions
Score Prediction: Athletic Club 1-1 Villarreal
Two very different but effective sides clash here and it’ll be a contrast of styles at San Mames. Villarreal have the makings of a team that can challenge the very best in Spain but they are nowhere near consistent enough yet and continue to drop points when you don’t expect it. A draw looks like a likely outcome here.