Previewing Celta Vigo vs Athletic Club: LaLiga Matchday 8
Two weeks ago Athletic found themselves at the top of the La Liga. The euphoria didn’t last long, however, as the Basques have since dropped to seventh after a draw with Leganés and their first loss of the season last weekend against Valencia. On Sunday, Athletic will have another opportunity to jump back up in the table as they travel to Celta Vigo looking for their first win away from home.
History between these two clubs has been kind to Athletic who have won 60 of the 110 total meetings while suffering just 28 losses. The past few years have been great as well with the Lions winning five times in their last six trips to Balaídos. In fact, it was this very fixture back in January that saw Athletic win their first game of the season on the road and they are hoping that lighting will strike twice.
Celta Vigo brought in a number of quality players over the summer but their start to the season hasn’t gone as expected. The Galicians currently sit just one point above the relegation zone and many believed that manager Fran Escribá would be sacked following a disappointing loss to Eibar. A bad performance against Athletic could be the tipping point going into the international break.
Star striker Iago Aspas has yet to score a goal this season while new arrivals Denis Suárez, Rafinha, and Santi Mina have been unable to make up the difference. Celta have plenty of options in attack but have been extremely poor defensively this season having already conceded 9 goals in the opening six games. Escribá has called up his best squad for Sunday’s clash.
Athletic have been in great form since Gaizka Garitano took over as manger back in December. The Basques have taken 12 points from the opening 7 matches but are coming off of their first loss of the season and a disappointing performance against Valencia. Athletic have been consistent away from home, drawing all three games, but know that a win will be vitally important against Celta Vigo.
Mikel Balenziaga is expected to start in place of Yuri Berchiche who suffered a dislocated shoulder in the loss to Valencia. The rest of the lineup could remain unchanged although Oscar De Marcos has been cleared to play which gives Garitano another option to choose from. Garitano normally doesn’t put a player straight back into the lineup following a lengthy absence which suggests that either Iñigo Córdoba or Ibai Gómez will be opposite of Iker Muniain.
Athletics history of great performances at Balaídos coupled with Celta Vigo’s struggles suggest that the Basques should be able to bring all three points back to Bilbao. However, this won’t be an easy game by any stretch. Celta’s depth of attacking options will put Athletic’s defense to the test while the Zurigorri will try to take advantage of a poor Celta backline. Anything can happen in Vigo and Athletic hope to pick up a key victory before going into the international break.
Projected Athletic Club XI: Unai Simón, Ander Capa, Yeray, Iñigo Martinez, Mikel Balenziaga, Dani García, Unai López, Iker Muniain, Raúl García, Ibai Gómez, Iñaki Williams