Previewing Athletic Club vs Alavés: LaLiga Matchday 5
Athletic welcome Alavés to San Mamés on Sunday for the team’s second Basque Derby of the season. Plenty will be on the line as the Lions look to continue their unbeaten start to the year while a victory would see Athletic jump to the top of the table. Fans are already starting to dream of Europe, but the players know they must take it one game at a time.
This rivalry has grown exponentially since Alavés made their return to the Primera in 2016, though history still favors Athletic who have won 21 of the 30 total meetings. Alavés have won just four times with their last victory coming in May of 2018 when they defeated Athletic 3-1 at Mendizorrotza. The last two matches both ended in draws.
Alavés have looked strong to start the season. Asier Garitano’s side secure led a win and two draws in their first three games before suffering their first loss to Sevilla last weekend. Alavés boast an impressive defense having conceded just two games to this point.
Likewise, Athletic have also been solid defensively. The Lions have kept three clean sheets through their first four games and have conceded just one goal. Athletic are unbeaten on the season with huge wins over Barcelona and Real Sociedad at San Mamés. The Cathedral has become a fortress once again.
Sunday’s match will kick off a stretch of three games in six days for Athletic, meaning Garitano will have to rotate the team. Sources claim that Ibai Gómez is expected to start against Alavés with Iñigo Córdoba likely the odd man out. Meanwhile, Yuri Berchiche is dealing with discomfort but it still in line to start with Iñigo Lekue on the bench. The rest of the lineup should remain unchanged.
Athletic have played very well this season against opponents who like to have possession, but that’s not Alavés. Both sides prioritize defending which means that this match could have very few opportunities. To take all three points, Athletic must create chances going forward, as well as set pieces, and finish in front of goal.
Projected Athletic Club XI: Unai Simón, Ander Capa, Yeray, Iñigo Martinez, Yuri Berchiche, Dani García, Unai López, Ibai Gómez, Raúl García, Iker Muniain, Iñaki Willians