Bilbao Athletic booked their place in the promotional playoffs on Sunday when they defeated Tudelano by the score of 2-0 at the San Mamés. It marked the team’s 12th straight victory at home and saw them finish 4th in the table. On Monday the draw took place to determine which teams would compete against each other in the first round of the playoffs and the Cachorros knew that there would be no easy opponents. Ultimately, they were drawn against Villarreal B who have had a very good season under manager Miguel Alvarez.
Villarreal B won 1-0 against Peña Deportivo on the last day of the season to finish second in their table with 65 points and will be a dangerous opponent. The team is lead by Adrián Dalmau who led the squad in scoring with 10 goals this season, followed by midfielder Chuca who added six himself. Villarreal B is a very balanced side that gets production from several different players every game which is what makes them so difficult to play against. The most interesting thing to note is that over 60% of their goals have come in the second half of matches, which is almost identical to that of Bilbao Athletic.
Tactically speaking, this matchup is going to be very interesting to watch. Villarreal B have switched back and forth between a 4-4-2 and a 4-2-3-1 this season, while Bilbao Athletic have solely used the later. Both sides have plenty of firepower up front and strong defenses which could lead to this being a really tight draw for the Cachorros. Villarreal B ended the season a +17 goal difference to Bilbao Athletic’s +40. The midfield is where the tie will ultimately be won.
It has already been confirmed that the first leg will take place this weekend in Bilbao, with the return leg coming on the road. The club will actually have a big decision to make as it has been reported that Bilbao Athletic could play their playoff matches at the San Mamés since the first team will conclude their season this Sunday. There has been some debate among fans who would rather see the Cachorros continue to play at Lezama where they have won 12 straight, while other believe having a bigger stadium full of supporters could spur the team to victories. Regardless of where Bilbao Athletic play, it is not going to be easy. Everyone in the playoffs has earned their place and Gaizka Garitano’s team will have to be at their best if they want to seal promotion to the Segunda.