Thursday, February 3
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Jan 23, 2022 at 5.30pm UK
Rayo VallecanoRayo Vallecano
Athletic BilbaoAthletic Bilbao

Lopez (89')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Serrano (30')
Williams (17'), Zarraga (60'), Garcia (69'), Simon (82'), Lekue (86'), Williams (88')

Preview: Rayo Vallecano vs. Athletic Bilbao - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Rayo Vallecano vs. Athletic Bilbao - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Sunday's La Liga clash between Rayo Vallecano and Athletic Bilbao, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Rayo Vallecano and Athletic Bilbao square off in La Liga on Sunday evening with just three points separating the clubs in the La Liga standings.

While Vallecano hold the advantage and possess a game in hand, Bilbao head into the contest at Estadio de Vallecas in the better form.

Match preview

Life certainly has not been boring at Athletic Bilbao since the turn of the year with six matches having already been played in three different competitions.

Last week, Bilbao reached the final of the Supercopa de Espana with victory over Atletico Madrid, only to fall short by a 2-0 scoreline against Real Madrid in the final.

On a more positive note, progress has been made into the Copa del Rey quarter-finals, Marcelino's team recording a stunning 3-2 triumph over Barcelona after their opponents had initially equalised twice to take the game to extra time.

That competition remains a priority in their season, particularly now it has opened up with the exits of several big teams, but Los Leones still have their eyes on a top-six spot in La Liga.

At the start of 2022, four points were collected from fixtures with Osasuna and Alaves, now leaving Bilbao in 10th position and four points adrift of sixth-placed Barca.

Upcoming opponents Rayo Vallecano are one point closer in seventh spot, a consequence of just four points being accumulated from as many fixtures.

Although they claimed a 1-1 draw against high-flying Real Betis, Los Franjirrojos played 57 minutes of that contest at a player advantage.

Andoni Iraola's team have certainly had the benefit of the draw when it comes to the Copa del Rey with last Saturday's tie at Girona being their fourth in succession against non La Liga opposition.

Nevertheless, they came from behind to earn a 2-1 victory, Sergi Guardiola netting a double to add to the three goals that he has netted in Spain's top flight.

Rayo Vallecano La Liga form:
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • D

Rayo Vallecano form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • W

Athletic Bilbao La Liga form:
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • D

Athletic Bilbao form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • W

Team News

Iraola made several changes for the Copa del Rey tie at Girona, and the players who dropped to the substitutes' bench for that game could return here.

That would see Esteban Saveljich, Oscar Trejo and Randy Nteka all feature in the team, although Guardiola may keep his spot ahead of Radamel Falcao.

Midfielder Oscar Valentin is serving a one-match suspension for five yellow cards.

Marcelino will assess the fitness of his Bilbao players after they were taken to extra time by Barcelona on Thursday night.

Inaki Williams, Alex Berenguer, Mikel Balenziaga, Inigo Lekue and Unai Simon are all in line to return to the team.

Rayo Vallecano possible starting lineup:
Zidane; Balilu, Saveljich, Catena, Garcia; Trejo, Ciss; Palazon, Comesana, Nteka; Guardiola

Athletic Bilbao possible starting lineup:
Simon; Lekue, Vivian, Martinez, Balenziaga; Berenguer, D. Garcia, Vesga, Muniain; Sancet, I. Williams

We say: Rayo Vallecano 1-2 Athletic Bilbao

Both clubs are having to battle hard to remain in contention for European qualification, and that should make for an intense match on Sunday. We give the marginal edge to the visitors, who may be able to capitalise on expectations beginning to rise at their opponents.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data

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9Athletic Bilbao2271052117431
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