Athletic Club - Celta de Vigo preview: Sixth - Fifth in La Liga battle

Athletic will welcome Celta on Sunday at the San Mames, just two points separate both clubs in the league table. A win for either side could increase their chances of finishing in the Europa League spot and not going through the qualifications to play in the competition.

Athletic Club - Celta de Vigo preview: Sixth - Fifth in La Liga battle
Sergio Gomez and Aritz Aduriz fighting for the ball | Photo: Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Last time both clubs met, the game at Estadio Municipal de Balaidos ended in a 1-0 defeat for Celta de Vigo against Athletic Club. The visitors dominated the game from the very start as Celta struggled to get only two shots on target at home. Aritz Aduriz held on to the ball well for a few seconds, found a straight forward pass for Raul Garcia who is running into the box and slots it past the gkeeper to give the Basque side all three points. Game ended Celta Vigo 0-1 Athletic Club.

Form

Athletic Club haven’t been on any real form in recent weeks as they have only picked up two wins in their last six league games. They are currently three points ahead of Sevilla in fifth place and the Basque side will want to pick up a win to stay ahead of Sevilla and finish in a Europa League spot.

In their last game Athletic showed true fighting spirits, coming from 2-0 down to score two goals in the final minutes of the game to pick up a point.

Athletic’s main man for the game will be Aritz Aduriz. The Spaniard has been given the green light to play against Celta after returning from injury. The striker is the club’s top goal scorer on 17 league goals and has six assists to his name too.

Aduriz celebrating | Photo: David Ramos/Getty Images
Aduriz celebrating | Photo: David Ramos/Getty Images

Celta de Vigo have been on decent form this month, despite three of the games ending in a draw. They have picked up nine points out of a possible 15. The visitors will want to pick up a win to complete their campaign to ensure a Europa League spot. In their last game, Iago Aspas' brace was enough to give the side three points to send them to fifth place.

Celta’s key player will be Nolito. The winger has the second most goals for the club after striker Iago Aspas and the Spaniard is the club’s best playmaker on seven assists. He has also picked up eight Man of the Match awards in this campaign.

Team News

Ernesto Valverde’s will be expected to play in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with few players returning from injury for the home side. Key player Artiz Aduriz will be available for Athletic after returning from injury. Oscar de Marcos and Eneko Boveda picked up a knock in their previous game, but have done well to return from it and will most likely start at the back. Aymeric Laporte is still out after suffering a broken leg last month and Sabin Merino won’t be returning for another two weeks who is still out with a hamstring injury.

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

Eduardo Berizzo’s side could play a very similar line-up that beat Granada, with a possible one or two changes being made. Daniel Wass is most likely going to return to the first eleven after being rested in the previous game and Iago Aspas returning in his favourite role leading the line. Nestor Diaz is still injured with a shoulder injury, he is expected to return to training in the middle of July. Claudio Beauevue won’t be returning from injury anytime soon, the attacker tore his Achilles tendon.

Celta’s predicted line-up (4-2-3-1): Blanco, Mallo, Cabral, Gomez, Jonny, Wass, Diaz, Orellana, Hernandez, Nolito, Aspas.

What to expect

Both sides will want the win, but with Athletic’s key players returning to the starting line-up it’s theirs to lose. However, Celta have an impressive record away from home only losing six of the 17 games.  

Athletic picking up all three points through a 2-1 win at San Mames would be an ideal result. Fantastic match to watch for any La Liga fan.