Defending a 12-match winning streak at the Bernabeu, Real Madrid plays host to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday afternoon under the shade of the ongoing Gareth Bale transfer saga.
Madrid can extend their unbeaten mark in La Liga, while Athletic can do the same under new boss Ernesto Valverde. Now in his second run with Los Leones, Valverde can hope to end his club’s five straight losses to Madrid.
A deal for Tottenham star Bale has reportedly led to a windfall of Los Blancos itching for a switch from the Bernabeu, counting top performers Karim Benzema, Mesut Ozil, Angel Di Maria, and recently Kaka.
The unrest hasn’t yet affected Los Blancos, and it won’t be a distraction for long as the transfer window slams shut on Tuesday Sept. 2. Carlo Ancelotti’s side remains focused on Athletic and recent acquisition Mikel Rico from Granada. The midfielder spent the last three years with Granada, picking up seven goals in 114 appearances.
Athletic are fresh off a 2-0 victory over Osasuna, thanks to a goal from Oscar de Marcos and an own goal by Los Rojillos defender Javier Arribas.
Grinding out their first two La Liga matches, Los Blancos overpowered Granada for a 1-0 victory after the second goal of the season for Benzema. Madrid fired off 21 shots, with eight on target in the match, and maintained a 66-34 possession advantage that frustrated Granada into four yellow cards.
Real Madrid (probable)
D: Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo
M: Modric, Isco, Ozil
F: Di Maria, Ronaldo, Benzema
D: Iraola, Laporte, Saborti, Gurpegui
M:Herrera, Benat, Iturraspe
F: Muniain, Aduriz, Sola
Prediction: Real Madrid 3, Athletic 1
Where to watch: The Premier Division match will kick-off at 6 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by beIN Sport, with a live stream available on beIN Sport Play.
Currently covering NBA, NFL, MLB, along with Real Madrid and Barcelona, focusing on trades, controversy, and injury updates. Joined IB Times in August 2012.