Preview: Athletic Bilbao vs. Girona – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Monday’s La Liga clash between Athletic Bilbao and Girona, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Girona will be bidding to get their La Liga title challenge back on track when they travel to Champions League-chasing Athletic Bilbao on Monday night.

The Catalan outfit suffered a 4-0 loss at leaders Real Madrid last time out, with the result leaving them second in the table, five points behind Carlo Ancelotti‘s side, while Athletic sit fifth, five points behind fourth-placed Atletico Madrid with a game in hand.

Match preview

Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior scores against Girona on February 10, 2024© Reuters

Girona were well-beaten at Real Madrid last weekend, with the capital giants proving to be far too strong on the evening, and the result was a dent in their title challenge.

Michel‘s side have not been beaten any other team in La Liga other than Real Madrid this season, and Los Blancos are emerging as the huge favourites to lift the trophy, but Girona are still having a remarkable campaign, with the Catalan outfit on course for a top-four finish.

The Red and Whites are now only two points ahead of third-placed Barcelona and five clear of fourth-placed Atletico, though, so they need to put the four-goal reverse at Real Madrid behind them as soon as possible.

The gap between fifth-placed Athletic and second-placed Girona in the table is 10 points, which shows the strength of their position in the top four, but another loss on Monday would leave them starting to look over their shoulder entering the final straight.

Girona have the second-best away record in La Liga this season, picking up 27 points from 12 matches, but Athletic have the third-best record at home, claiming 29 points from their 12 games at San Mames.

Athletic Bilbao's Gorka Guruzeta celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on January 24, 2024© Reuters

Athletic held Girona to a 1-1 draw in the league earlier this season, but the Catalan side won 3-2 at San Mames in the corresponding fixture last term, with Athletic’s last home win over Monday’s opponents coming in late 2018.

The Lions will be under no illusions when it comes to the size of their task in this match, and they will be bidding to return to winning ways, having drawn 0-0 with basement side Almeria last time out.

Athletic are also bidding for success in the Copa del Rey this season, recording a 1-0 victory over Atletico in the first leg of their semi-final earlier this month.

Ernesto Valverde‘s side are chasing their first top-four finish in Spain’s top flight for 10 years, meanwhile, and they will bring a five-game unbeaten run into Monday’s contest.

Athletic have two more league games against Girona and Real Betis before welcoming Atletico for the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final on February 29; March will then start with the small matter of a home game against the champions Barcelona.

Athletic Bilbao La Liga form:

Athletic Bilbao form (all competitions):

Girona La Liga form:

Girona form (all competitions):

Team News

Girona's Yan Couto pictured on October 8, 2022© Reuters

Athletic will again definitely be missing Daniel Vivian due to a leg injury, while Nico Williams and Gorka Guruzeta will face late fitness tests for the home side.

Providing that Nico Williams and Guruzeta are declared fit, the pair will return in the final third of the field, while there should also be a recall for Oihan Sancet in the number 10 position.

It could therefore be a new-look attack from the one which struggled against Almeria, but there will again be a start down the right for Inaki Williams.

As for Girona, Artem Dovbyk will need to undergo a late fitness test on a muscular problem, while David Lopez, Joel Roca and Toni Villa will be missing due to injury issues.

The Catalan outfit will also be without the services of Yan Couto, who picked up a milestone yellow card in the four-goal defeat to Real Madrid last time out, so Arnau Martinez could come in at the back.

Head coach Mikel will resist the temptation to shuffle his pack following the Real Madrid clash, with the club hopeful that leading goalscorer Dovbyk will be able to lead the line.

Athletic Bilbao possible starting lineup:
Simon; De Marcos, Yeray, Paredes, Yuri; Ruiz de Galarreta, Vesga; I Williams, Sancet, N Williams; Guruzeta

Girona possible starting lineup:
Gazzaniga; A Martinez, E Garcia, Juanpe, Gutierrez; I Martin, A Garcia; Tsyhankov, Portu, Savio; Dovbyk

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We say: Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Girona

This is such a difficult match to call, and it will be fascinating to see Girona’s response after their poorest result of the campaign. Athletic are such a strong team, but their recent league form has been patchy, and we are expecting the points to be shared on Monday night.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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