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Oct 31, 2021 at 8pm UK
Real SociedadReal Sociedad
Athletic BilbaoAthletic Bilbao
Isak (58' pen.)
Isak (71'), Januzaj (74'), Merino (78'), Guevara (90+3')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Muniain (90+1')
Martinez (56'), de Marcos (59')
Martinez (84')

Preview: Real Sociedad vs. Athletic Bilbao - prediction, team news, lineups

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

One of the standout fixtures on the La Liga calendar will take place in San Sebastian on Sunday evening, as league leaders Real Sociedad welcome rivals Athletic Bilbao for the Basque derby.

Real Sociedad top the table with 24 points to show from their opening 11 matches, while Athletic sit down in eighth, having picked up 17 points from their first 10 games of the 2021-22 campaign.

Match preview

Real Sociedad have been the standout team in Spain's top flight this season, winning seven, drawing three and losing one of their 11 fixtures to collect 24 points, which has left them at the top of the division.

Imanol Alguacil's side had actually been knocked off the summit by Real Madrid earlier this week, but Thursday's 2-0 victory at Celta Vigo, where Alexander Isak and Aritz Elustondo were on the scoresheet, allowed the Basque outfit to return to first position ahead of the next set of fixtures.

Real Sociedad have had a host of injury problems this term, which makes their start even more impressive, and they are also going well in the Europa League, picking up five points from their three matches to sit second in Group B, two points behind section leaders Monaco.

The White and Blues finished fifth in La Liga last season, but they were 15 points off the top four, and there is no question that the club will be looking to close that gap and potentially break into the Champions League spots this term.

Real Sociedad are actually unbeaten in their last three league matches against Athletic, recording two wins in the process, but the points were shared in a 1-1 draw when the pair last locked horns in April.

Athletic would love nothing more than to burst Real Sociedad's bubble this weekend, and Los Leones have also made an encouraging start to the campaign, picking up 17 points from their first 10 matches to occupy eighth.

Marcelino's side have only lost once in Spain's top flight this season, while they have conceded just six times, which is the best defensive record at this stage of the campaign.

Athletic will bring a four-game unbeaten run into this contest, beating Alaves and Villarreal, in addition to drawing with Valencia and Espanyol over the last month, meaning that confidence will be high in the camp.

The Lions have finished 11th and 10th in their last two campaigns at this level of football but will believe that they are good enough to push for a potential European spot this term.

Athletic's last league success over their bitter rivals came in August 2019, while they have not actually won away to Real Sociedad in Spain's top flight since a 2-0 success in March 2017.

Real Sociedad La Liga form:
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • W

Real Sociedad form (all competitions):
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W

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

Team News

Real Sociedad had hoped to have Mikel Oyarzabal available for Sunday's contest, but the attacker is still struggling with a muscular problem, so it would be a surprise to see him involved.

Carlos Fernandez, Nacho Monreal, Jon Guridi and Diego Rico are all still unavailable, but Ander Barrenetxea is expected to be fit enough for the bench here.

There is every chance that head coach Alguacil could name the same side that took to the field for the first whistle against Celta, with Isak, who continues to be linked with some of the biggest clubs in European football, leading the line.

As for Athletic, Yuri Berchiche, Peru Nolaskoain, Oier Zarraga, Asier Villalibre and Dani Vivian will all miss the contest through injury.

Head coach Marcelino is expected to make changes from the side that started against Espanyol on Tuesday night, with Dani Garcia, Raul Garcia and Alex Berenguer all pushing to be involved from the start.

Raul Garcia could join Inaki Williams in the final third of the field, while Dani Garcia is likely to be handed a midfield spot alongside Unai Vencedor, with Mikel Vesga dropping down to the bench.

Real Sociedad possible starting lineup:
Ryan; Zaldua, Elustondo, Le Normand, Munoz; Silva, Merino, Zubimendi; Portu, Isak, Januzaj

Athletic Bilbao possible starting lineup:
Simon; Lekue, Alvarez, Martinez, Balenziaga; Berenguer, Vencedor, D Garcia, Muniain; Williams, R Garcia

We say: Real Sociedad 1-1 Athletic Bilbao

Real Sociedad have been excellent this season, but Athletic's record cannot be ignored, with Marcelino's side proving very difficult to beat this term. The two teams played out a 1-1 draw when they last locked horns in this stadium back in April, and we can see the same scoreline occurring on Sunday night.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 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.Under 3.5:data

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7Rayo Vallecano136251914520
8Athletic Bilbao13472118319
15Celta Vigo143471418-413
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