Whatever you do, don’t back a draw in Bilbao v Atletico clash
These two sides have been a mainstay in La Liga over the past decade, but it is the visitors Atletico Madrid who have got the better of Athletic Bilbao most recently.
The duo met four times last season in the league and Copa del Rey, with the capital club winning each game, and they are tempting 11/10 favourites with Coral for victory once more.
Basque club Bilbao, though, triumphed 3-0 in their two previous home games, prior to last term, against the current Spanish champions, so can be backed at 13/5 to beat them again, and 55/1 by that scoreline.
A draw, however, is long overdue in this fixture, as it has been 20 matches in all competitions and nine years since they both went away with a share of the spoils. If you fancy that outcome here at Bilbao’s San Mames ground, then take odds of 11/5.
These teams come into this game on the back of unconvincing showings in the Copa del Rey against lower opposition, despite both progressing. Atleti could only draw with third-tier club Hospitalet (advancing with a 5-2 aggregate), while the Lions beat Alcoyano just 1-0, after their 1-1 first leg scoreline.
But 2014 in general has been a fantastic year for Diego Simeone, whose side reached the Champions League final in May, on top of their La Liga success.
Speaking ahead of Atletico’s final match of the year, the Argentine said: “The year has provided us with wonderful feelings.
“We have only lost one match at the Calderon and that speaks highly of the work done by the players. I hope that we can start the coming year in the same way.”
Simeone will be without his summer signing, striker Mario Mandzukic, who has 14 goals this term so far, as he is suspended, along with star midfielder Koke.
That means the pressure will be on Mexican Raul Jimenez to score, and he is a 21/10 chance to net anytime.
Bilbao, meanwhile, will be hoping to rely on young Spaniard Iker Muniain, who scored last season against Atleti, so take odds of 7/2 for him to get a goal again.
Atletico are currently in third place in the table, and seven points off the pace from leaders and city rivals Real Madrid, so it seems anything other than a win here will all but end their hopes of defending the title. They are 33/1 chances to be crowned champions again this term, though.
Bilbao, on the other hand, are down in 10th, and 11 points off the top four, so will be equally determined for victory.