ATH.BILBAO VS MARSEILLE PREVIEW & PREDICTION
Athletic Bilbao faces a tough job at Olympique Marseille on Thursday-evening. In the eighth finals of the Europa League, the Spaniards in their own San Mames have to brush away a 3-1 defeat from the first leg. The French showed last week in the first leg, however, already a nice ball to be able to kick.
For Athletic Bilbao, the return against Olympique Marseille means the last chance to make some of the season. The Basques do not advance beyond the right-hand row in their own country and were shamefully eliminated in the Spanish cup tournament by third-divisioner Formentera. The Thursday night’s game is a real finale for the home team.
The Basque hope in fearful days listens to the name of Artiz Aduriz, who can call himself top scorer of the Europa League with eight goals for the time being. Even in the first match in the Stade Velodrome, the attacker was again accurate and kept his team in the race with his goal goal. “We were not involved today, but in San Mames the roles will be reversed,” Aduriz said afterwards. Last weekend, Aduriz did not play, as trainer Kuko Ziganda wants to kick off his 37-year-old talisman as fit as possible on Thursday-evening. Even without Aduriz, however, Athletic Bilbao knew a good dress rehearsal, as Leganes was defeated 2-0 last weekend. Raul Garcia crowned himself with two fast goals as match winner, although the attacking midfielder against Olympique Marseille has to go missing because of a suspension. For Ziganda it is puzzling in the midfield anyway, as midfielder Mikel San Jose is also suspended. In the back, the coach can not call on defender Inigo Martinez, who played Europa League football before the winter break with Real Sociedad.
Olympique Marseille is best of the rest in France, at an appropriate distance from AS Monaco and with a street length behind leading Paris Saint-Germain. Holding the third place in the Ligue 1 and thus qualifying for the Champions League is the main priority for the team of trainer Rudi Garcia, although European success is always welcome. L’OM still has a good reputation in Europe, thanks in part to the Champions League win in 1993 under the late Raymond Goethals, nicknamed Le Sorcier (The Magician).
Olympique Marseille has not been in shape lately, but the South French last weekend won their second victory in a row by defeating Toulouse 1-2 thanks to goals by Lucas Ocampos and Kostas Mitroglou. Especially Ocampos has been on his hips lately, because even in the first match against Athletic Bilbao, the Argentinian scored twice. Afterwards, however, it was mainly about star player Dimitri Payet who started on the bench and only participated as a substitute for the last twenty minutes. The number ten then enabled fellow substitute Mitroglou to score the winning goal. “Dimitri had not been able to train with the group on Saturday, so I did not dare to put him in the starting line,” said Garcia. ‘Fortunately, he has been able to leave his mark on the match as a substitute.’ An important three point, with which Olympique Marseille immediately put an end to a series of four official away games without victory. Also in European away games, the French are upset, as the six Europa League matches of this season (qualifying round and group stage) did not win any victory either.
PREDICTION: Both teams to score / YES @ 1.67