ATH.BILBAO VS LEVANTE PREVIEW & PREDICTION
Levante hopes to take another big step towards the preservation of life on Monday evening, when it will visit Athletic Bilbao on Monday evening. The home club is traditionally very strong in San Mames.
Athletic Bilbao is surely one of the main underperformers of this season in La Liga. Both in terms of budget and in terms of player material, the Basques belong in the Spanish sub-top, but they have spent the entire season in the anonymity of the right-hand row. Chances are that trainer Kuko Ziganda, who last summer the Ernesto Valverde left for FC Barcelona in the San Mames, will pick up after the season.
Yet Athletic Bilbao occasionally knows how to delight fans once in a while, such as last Wednesday in the 1-1 draw against Real Madrid in the Santiago Bernabeu. Goalkeeper Kepa kept the game of his life and grabbed just about every ball that the Madrilenians fired at him, even though he had to give himself just before time on a bet from Cristiano Ronaldo. “He is indeed one of the best keepers in Spain,” Ziganda said. “I’m glad he’s under the bar with us.”
With only 39 hits, Athletic Bilbao has its affairs in order in a defensive way, but the lack of scoring ability regularly breaks the team up. With eight goals, Aritz Aduriz is still the club top scorer at Los Leones, but because of his age he is more often on the bench and is also a big question mark for Monday evening. Inaki Williams now serves as a deep rush, but that is not his place. It is certainly no coincidence that he scored all his goals outside his own San Mames. Outdoors Athletic Bilbao can let itself collapse and Williams can use his speed in the changeover. For the general public, the red-witches are often forced to make the game themselves, after which the team soon gets into trouble because of its lack of creativity and scoring ability.
Levante has body preservation at your fingertips. The club from Valencia was under free head coach Juan Muniz occupied a free fall in the rankings, but in the six rounds with interim manager Paco Lopez at the helm to write no less than thirteen points. The redblue saw how Deportivo La Coruna visited Leganes last Friday night, not a goalless draw, so their direct rivals can catch up on nine points on Monday-evening. Then, however, there will have to be won at Athletic Bilbao.
It is of course difficult to say whether Paco Lopez is actually responsible for the turnaround, but the fact is that Levante continues to fight under his leadership until the very last whistle. The last two victories (Las Palmas-home: 2-1 and Malaga-home: 1-0) came about thanks to a goal in injury time. Last Thursday evening, at home against Malaga, Emmanuel Boateng was again the gold cock. The Ghanaian striker was only three times accurate this season, but with these goals he scored personally five extra points. After all, he already managed to score against Real Madrid (2-2) and Eibar (2-1). Levante is on the right track, but with five more rounds to go, it is still not definitively safe.
PREDICTION: Ath Bilbao to win @ 1.67