Athletic Bilbao will look to claim first place in La Liga when they travel to the Iberostar Stadium to face Mallorca on Friday.
Bilbao’s season started spectacularly when they hosted Barcelona at San Mames to open the new season. Aritz Aduriz scored a stunning late goal to hand his side a 1-0 win over the defending champions. Bilbao have continued on that momentum. They managed a draw with Getafe the next week, and beat Real Sociedad in their last league game. Inaki Williams scored his first goal of the season against Sociedad.Embed from Getty Images
He is the main striker for Bilbao this season, and manager Gaizka Garitano has handed the responsibility to the Spaniard. Even though Aduriz is a useful option off the bench, he can’t start every game at this stage in his career. Armed with great pace and trickery, Williams is sure to be a problem for any defence. He scored 12 goals last season in La Liga. Bilbao fans will hope that the goal against Sociedad will spur him to better that tally.
Raul Garcia has scored twice already this season, and the veteran has excelled in an advanced role. Captain Iker Muniain is yet to score this season, but he has continued to contribute to the side nonetheless. Bilbao finished eighth in the league last season which means that they will not be involved in Europe this season. Garitano will hope that his side will breach that hurdle this time.
They will face Mallorca who is one of the promoted sides this season. Mallorca finished fifth in the Segunda Division last season and reached the La Liga by the playoff route. They came back from a 2-0 deficit in the final against Deportivo. Mallorca started the season with a win, but they have lost two games in succession since. They beat Eibar 2-1 on the opening weekend at the Iberostar Stadium. Daniel Rodriguez scored in that game for Mallorca, and the other goal was an own goal.Embed from Getty Images
In the two games since, they have failed to score even once. Real Sociedad and Valencia beat them by a combined score of 3-0. Mallorca are 14th in the table as a result. In the game against Valencia, Mallorca managed just one effort on target. Their attack will need to improve if they want to extend their stay in the top flight by another season.
Six seasons have elapsed since Mallorca’s last appearance in the top flight. Bilbao dominated the head to head record between the two sides then. They have won their last three league games against Mallorca by a combined scoreline of 4-1. Bilbao are the few sides who have never been relegated, which is in stark contrast to Mallorca’s situation in recent years.
Mallorca vs Athletic Bilbao Betting Tips
Despite playing away from home, Bilbao will be confident of taking the three points at Mallorca. They are unbeaten so far, and Mallorca have lost their last two games. The total goals will be less than 2.5 in the game, and Bilbao should grind out a close win.