Levante - Athletic Club preview: Away side expecting all three points

Bottom place Levante will welcome fifth place Athletic in a early Sunday kick-off. Visitors will want the three points to retain their spot for next year’s Europe League, meanwhile Levant are struggling to break out from the relegation zone.

Levante - Athletic Club preview: Away side expecting all three points
Levante will welcome Athletic on Sunday | Photo: Jose Miguel Fernandez/NurPhoto/Getty Images

The reverse fixture at the San Mames ended in a 2-0 win for Athletic Club against Levante. The home side took the lead in the second half, a well times cross from Markel Susaeta followed by a header from Mikel San Jose into the far corner.

The Basque side finished the game off in the last ten minutes of the game, a sweet pass from Aritz Aduriz which gave Inaki Williams the chance to slot it past the goalkeeper to give Athletic the second goal. Game finished Athletic Club 2-0 Levante.

Form

Levante have been pretty much awful this season, only picking up seven league wins throughout the whole season. Most of the points they have won have been at home, which should be a positive fact with their next match being on their own turf. Levante though, lost their last game away to Granada by 5-1, the bottom place side will need to pick up maximum points in the last four games left to stand a chance of staying up.

Levante’s danger man for the game will be Deyverson, the forward has nine goals and one assist to his name this season. The Brazilian is the club’s top goal scorer this season, he will want to pick up a goal against Athletic to reach double figures for the campaign. An interesting fact about him his behaviour issues this season, he has nine yellow cards and two red cards which isn’t good for a striker.

Athletic have been on and off in recent weeks, the Basque side still sith in fifth place despite losing to second place Atletico Madrid during the midweek match. Luckily for them the other clubs weren’t close to them in the league position to take an advantage of this, but Celta Vigo picked up a vital point which puts both sides on 54 points this season.

Athletic’s key man will be Raul Garcia. The Spaniard’s key goal last week against Malaga gave the away side the vital three points. Garcia has five goals and six assists to his name during his first season at Athletic and will be looking to carry this on. He is one of the many players that have played over 2000 league minutes for the side.

Raul Garcia | Photo: Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images
Raul Garcia | Photo: Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Team News

Rubi’s side will be expected to carry on playing in a 4-4-2 formation, with a few players still out. Full-back Ivan Lopez is still out with a knee injury though he should return to training for Levante in a few days but will miss the game - Athletic.

The other full-back Tono, who has been out with a broken ankle since early March, will be expected to return in June. Simao Mate will miss the game through suspension, while Juanfran returns from his ownsuspension and is expected to return straight into the line-up.

Levante’s predicted line-up (4-4-2): Marino, Lopez, Navarro, Medjani, Juanfran, Verdu, Verza, Lerma, Morales, Rossi, Deyverson.

Ernesto Valverde's side still have a few players out from his squad, but is not expected to make any changes from the side. Aymeric Laporte, who picked up a nasty injury whilst on international duty for France, is given an expected return date of August. Sabin Merino picked up a hamstring injury a few weeks ago, the Spaniard should return just before the season is finished. Top goal scorer Aritz Aduriz will definitely miss the Levante game, he should return in two or three week’s time.

Athletic’s predicted line-up (4-2-3-1): Iraizoz, De Marcos, Etxeita, Boveda, Balenziaga, San Jose, Benat, Susaeta, Raul Garcia, Muniain, Viguera.

What to expect   

Athletic Club are definitely the favourites for the game, but Levante will surely put in a fight to try attempting survival. It’s a bit late for Levante with only four games of the season left, but it will be a good game to watch. This will be a vital game for both La Liga sides.