Real Madrid travel to take on Athletic Club on Sunday looking to increase their lead to seven points at the top of La Liga, ahead of Barcelona’s clash with Villarreal.
Zinedine Zidane couldn’t have hoped for a better start since play resumed, with his men picking up wins in each of their six games since the restart. This fine form has seen Los Blancos climb above rivals Barcelona to the top of the table, where they now sit four points clear.
Athletic Club, meanwhile, come into the game in good form, having won their last two games. They currently find themselves sat in eighth place in the table, just four points behind sixth-placed Getafe.
Here’s 90min‘s preview of Sunday’s game…
When Is Kick Off? Sunday 5 July
What Time Is Kick Off? 13:00 (BST)
Where Is it Played? San Mamés Stadium
TV Channel/Live Stream? LaLigaTV (UK), FuboTV (US)
Referee? José Luis González González
Athletic Club come into Sunday’s clash with a nearly fully fit squad. Bernat is out due to a hip injury, but other than that, the hosts will be at full strength and there aren’t expected to be many surprises to their starting lineup.
Real Madrid will be without defender Raphael Varane after he was forced off against Getafe last time out with a head injury, boss Zidane has confirmed. As a result, Eder Militao will come into the side to replace him.
Eden Hazard missed Real’s last game, and Zidane has confirmed that he has been struggling with little niggles. While refusing to be drawn into going into too much detail, he did explain that he hopes to see him again before the end of the season.
Luka Jovic, meanwhile, also returned to the bench last time out after overcoming his injury struggles. Elsewhere, Fede Valverde may well come back into the team against Athletic.
Athletic Club: Simon, Capa, Yuri, Martinez, Yeray, Yuri; Vesga, Garcia; Cordoba, Sancet, Garcia; s.
Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Ramos, Mendy; Kroos, Casemiro, Valverde; Rodrygo, Benzema, Isco.
Athletic Club come into the game in good form, having won their last two league matches – against Valencia and Mallorca. In fact, since the restart, they have lost just one of their games, a narrow 1-0 defeat to Barcelona.
Most recently, they were impressive as they overcame Valencia 2-0 away from home, with Raul Garcia grabbing both goals. As a result, confidence will be high in the Athletic squad and they will be hoping to continue their good form with a positive result against the league leaders.
Real, however, will not be an easy team to beat as they come into the game in very good form. They are yet to drop points since the restart, while they have also kept clean sheets in their last three games.
Last time out, Zidane’s men picked up a 1-0 win over Getafe to move four points clear at the top of La Liga, with Sergio Ramos’ penalty proving the difference. With Los Blancos playing before Barcelona on Sunday, Zidane will be desperate to see his side pick up all three points in order to move seven points clear at the top – for the time being anyway.
Here’s how both sides have performed in their last five games.
Valencia 0-2 Athletic Club (01/07)
Athletic Club 3-1 Mallorca (27/06)
Barcelona 1-0 Athletic Club (23/06)
Athletic Club 1-0 Real Betis (20/06)
Eibar 2-2 Athletic Club (17/06)
Real Madrid 1-0 Getafe (02/07)
Espanyol 0-1 Real Madrid (28/06)
Real Madrid 2-0 Real Mallorca (24/06)
Real Sociedad 1-2 Real Madrid (21/06)
Real Madrid 3-0 Valencia (18/06)
On paper, it would appear as though Real Madrid will go on and claim all three points, despite Athletic’s recent displays.
And while we expect this to be the case, it will be a very tough contest for Zidane’s men. The Frenchman will be keen to stress the importance of picking up a win, not just because it will take them another step closer towards the title in terms of points, but also psychologically – with Barça playing later in the day.
Athletic are a tough opponent, especially at home, but expect Real to once again produce the required quality to just edge past their opponents.
Prediction: Athletic Club 1-2 Real Madrid