Previewing Athletic Club vs Sevilla: LaLiga Matchday 35
The race for Europe is going down to the wire. With just four games left to play Athletic currently trail seventh-placed Real Sociedad by three points and are confident they will be able to make up the difference. With Sevilla visiting San Mamés on Thursday night the Zurigorri will have a big opportunity to climb the table and a win could be monumental.
History certainly favors Athletic who have won nine straight league games at home against Sevilla. Over that time the Basques have scored 18 goals and concede just 4 while keeping 5 clean sheets. Making it 10 in a row could jettison Athletic into the top seven, but Sevilla will be eager to break the streak.
While Athletic are chasing the Europa League, Sevilla have their eyes set on Champions League football. The Andalusians are currently 4th in the table and hold a 6 point lead over Villarreal. At this point qualifying for Champions League isn’t a guarantee and that makes the visit to San Mamés just as important for Sevilla.
Athletic will be missing two keys players on Thursday night with Raúl García suspended and Yeray having been ruled out for the rest of the season with a calf injury. Unai Núñez will take Yeray’s place in the lineup, but Garitano will have more options to choose from to replace García. Starting Asier Villalibre or Kenan Kodro will be possibilities, along with bringing Oihan Sancet back into the team and moving Iñaki Williams back up top.
It’s also important to note that three players are currently one booking away from suspension. If Iñigo Martinez, Dani García, or Iñigo Córdoba are shown a yellow card they would miss Athletic’s upcoming trip to Levante.
Sevilla will also be without an important player in Tomáš Vaclík. The goalkeeper suffered a gruesome knee injury a few nights ago in the win over Eibar and will be replaced by Bono who hasn’t played a single minute since the restart. Julen Lopetegui’s side have gone 11 straight games without defeat and the manager will be sure to field yet another strong team at San Mamés.
To come away with all three points Athletic must control the midfield and win the battles out wide. Sevilla have several dangerous players who run the flanks and will put the Basques under pressure. Dominating the wings and finishing chances will be the key to victory for Athletic.
Projected Athletic Club XI: Unai Simón, Ander Capa, Unai Núñez, Iñigo Martinez, Yuri Berchiche, Dani García, Unai López, Iñaki Williams, Iker Muniain, Iñigo Córdoba, Asier Villalibre