Previewing Athletic Club vs Mallorca: LaLiga Matchday 32
Gaizka Garitano took a calculated risk on Tuesday night against Barcelona. With important matches on the horizon the manager chose to rest a number of key players at Camp Nou. Athletic played very well and nearly took a point off the Catalans, but unfortunately returned home empty-handed.
In theory, Athletic should be well-rested going into Saturday’s match against Mallorca and will benefit from the returns of Yuri Berchiche and Ibai Gómez who were both unavailable for the trip to Barcelona. The Lions have had an extra day of rest than their opponents and fresh legs for important players, but that doesn’t guarantee victory. As Garitano said in Friday’s press conference, Mallorca will have everything on the line as they currently sit six points deep in the relegation zone.
Athletic may not have the support of fans at San Mamés, but the Basques have been excellent at home this season. Garitano’s side have conceded just 8 goals at the Cathedral, fewer than any other club, and have continued their good run since the campaign returned. Attacking, or rather finishing chances, will be the key to victory.
It’s no secret that Athletic have struggled to score goals this year. The Zurigorri have managed to create good chances over the past few games, but haven’t reaped the reward. In the first meeting with Mallorca earlier this season the two sides played to a scoreless draw with Manolo Reina making five big saves to deny the Basques.
With time running out to escape relegation Mallorca will go for everything at San Mamés. Los Bermellones have yet to win a game since the season resume, losing three times and picking up a draw against Leganés, and are desperate for points. Vicente Moreno will hold nothing back against Athletic who have been prone to mistakes in recent games.
Garitano is sure to field the strongest possible lineup with few surprises as only a victory will be acceptable. Athletic will be favorites to win the match and take all three points, but Mallorca will be determined to change that narrative. At this point in the season Athletic will need a strong performance to see off their visitors and finishing chances will likely be the difference between a good result and falling further behind in the race for Europe.
Projected Athletic Club XI: Unai Simón, Ander Capa, Yeray, Iñigo Martinez, Yuri Berchiche, Dani García, Unai López, Iñigo Córdoba, Iker Muniain, Iñaki Williams, Raúl García