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Real Madrid eager to extend La Liga lead against Athletic Bilbao

| 07.03.2015

Real Madrid, odds-on match favourites at 4/11 with Coral, will travel to San Mames with much confidence, having won 18 of their last 20 tussles across all competitions with hosts Athletic Bilbao.

The current La Liga leaders cannot afford to slip up again after failing to sink Villarreal last time out in the league, and battlers Bilbao should provide an equally tough test on home turf.

After securing their spot in the Copa del Rey final, the Basque Country club are 13/2 chances for a surprise scalp, or a more realistic 4/1 to stifle Real and split the spoils.

The Lions have managed to keep two consecutive clean sheets against fellow Basques Eibar and Espanyol, but have fallen to Madrid’s superior firepower already this season.

Real were rampant against Bilbao at the Bernabeu, smashing a fantastic five goals past their visitors, so back Carlo Ancelotti’s men at an excellent 8/5 to win to nil again, or a fine 4/1 to score four or more.

Cristiano Ronaldo certainly likes scoring against Bilbao’s backline, and has terrorised the hosts by striking 14 times in his past 10 outings against them, including two braces and as many hat-tricks. So, back the Portugal skipper at 2/1 to be at his unplayable best and score two or more, or 8/1 to net a tasty treble.

Ancelotti is likely to field all of top attacking trio of Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale in the Basque Country, as Los Blancos strive to stay ahead of bitter rivals Barcelona. France forward Benzema, who struck twice against the Lions earlier this term, is also great value at 7/2 to open the scoring, while Wales speedster Bale is 4/1 to net the final goal.

Pepe’s recent return to Real’s rearguard, and the impressive partnership of new recruit Lucas Silva and reinvigorated Isco alongside Toni Kroos, should provide to much quality for the home team to handle.

However, Bilbao boss Ernesto Valverde can welcome back Markel Susaeta and Benat Etxebarria, who sat out victory against Espanyol.

While, Susaeta (6/1 to score anytime) will be relied upon to assist, Real will have to be wary of top Lions scorer Aritz Aduriz, who is available at 8/1 to draw first blood, or 11/4 to grab a goal anytime.

Bilbao are certainly Real’s opposites, and will field a raft of homegrown stars, including top talents Aymeric Laporte and Iker Muniain (5/1 to fire home the final goal), to face the Bernabeu superstars. With Barca hosting minnows Rayo Vallecano, however, Los Blancos must not blink.

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Holly Thackeray

Holly is a member of the content team, and can often be found on the sports desk writing about favourite topics Serie A and East Asian footballing nations. A recent darts convert, she is also a fully-fledged member of Barney's Army and a proud Leeds-born Manchester United fan.