Thursday, October 27, 2011


Thursday October 27th

Finally ! The late goals have started to come the correct way, which of course, is in our favour ! Levante and Liverpool both found winners inside the final five minutes and kept up our 100% record ( five from five) for the new week, actually the last 34 "official"football selections have produced 25 winners.

One of those was
Athletic Bilbao (see below) and I am going to start with their attractive home fixture with Atletico Madrid. They started on fire in the Osasuna game, racing into an early 3-0 lead and coasting home despite the visitors claiming an injury time consolation goal. Bilbao have subsequently continued their recovery with a draw at Mestalla and can move into the top eight with three points this evening. Wildly talented Iker Muniain scored in both matches and looks a player to build a franchise around. Now that coach Marcelo Bielsa has got his team up and running and signing from his hymn sheet, I do not want to rush to oppose Athletic, a top four push is certainly not out of the question, they were sixth last year anyway and it is hard to make a case for Valencia, Sevilla and especially Villarreal being stronger this time round. With a tough November ahead, including a visit from Barcelona and trip to Seville, they should be extra motivated for points tonight and at Gijon over the weekend and this looks a very good time to be playing Atletico, who are another potential rival for a high finish. The capital's second club started the season well enough, but a heavy loss to Barce appears to have knocked their confidence and they have lost their way, they are without a win in six, or a goal from open play in four starts ( they scored against Mallorca from the penalty spot), or of any kind on the road domestically. Star 40m euro striker Radamel Falcao has not been firing and is said to be struggling with gastroenteritis over recent days. Hosts will be without Carlos Gurpegi for several months, but the veteran midfielder has been a fringe player under Bielsa and I do not see this as the loss it would once have been. I have to stick with the hosts Athletic Bilabo -0.25 ball 2.12 asian line.

Bilbao: Iraizoz, Toquero, Aurtenetxe, Amorebieta, San José, David López, Iturraspe, Llorente, De Marcos, Gabilondo, Raúl, Susaeta, Iraola, Muniain, Ander Herrera, Ekiza, Javi Martínez, Ibai , Ruiz and Galarreta.

Atletico: Courtois, Sergio Asenjo, Godín, Antonio López, Filipe Luis, Sìlvio, Álvaro Domínguez, Miranda, Mario Suárez, Salvio, Reyes, Arda Turan, Paulo Assunçao, Gabi, Koke, Diego, Adrián, Falcao and Pizzi.

In Serie A, a few words about ....... xxx xx xxxx sorry, my other two match previews and my sole red type selection of the day are only for readers of my daily notes.

Good Luck.

Written Monday October 17th

In La Liga we have an interesting Basque derby game between Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna, hosts are the big power in the region and after seeing off Sociedad (another local rival) just before the international break, will be keen to follow up and do the double. I suspect they could have done without the break, as that was their first win of the campaign and it followed on from an impressive 2-0 defeat of big spending PSG in the Europa League. New coach Marcelo Bielsa is a real one off and it has taken a little time to get his ideas across, but the benefits are starting to show and we can expect Bilbao to come on very strong in the next couple of months. Bielsa is very meticulous, he personally checks pitch measurements before every away game and has been known to give four hour press conferences ! He favours a high pressing game, with the strikers putting a lot of pressure on opposing defenders, whilst at times this looks a fairly rigid formation, he makes a lot of subtle changes during the course of the game, which sometimes give them five forward players. 18 yo Iker Muniain has been outstanding in the last two seasons and he has been very influential in the last two games, setting up a lot of chances for the front three. Far more options for the coach tonight with the return of big summer signing Ander Herrera from injury and Ekiza to the centre of defence after suspension and this is a young, developing team of huge potential. Fernando Llorente who has found his scoring boots recently, missed training twice last week, but is named in the squad and Bielsa has a habit of sometimes training strikers separately from the rest of the group in any case, so you can never be sure with him, I told you he was a one off ! You always get a tough physical challenge from Athletic and the visitors have really struggled here in recent seasons, not scoring in five visits and losing the last four. Osasuna are not great travellers at the best of times and probably still have nightmares about their recent 8-0 loss at Barcelona, where their goalkeeper was their star performer and they look a little fragile. Goals are always a problem for them, just five this season and only Gijon of the other top ten clubs scored fewer last season, defensively they are very short of numbers with four players out, two of whom (Raitala and Ruben) started in the last league game, when they conceded two at home to struggling Mallorca, the second when the visitors were already reduced to ten men. They have added Roversio to the squad, but he was said to be a big doubt a couple of days ago and including him, every available defensive player has travelled. I like this home win a lot, but am not madly keen on these Monday night home televised favourites, having said that, everything else looks in Athletic's favour and they desperately need a home win in the league, especially ahead of tougher games against Valencia and Atletico. Just one unit Athletic Bilbao -0.5 ball 1.86, but I might press this early in the game if signs are good and 2.0 + becomes available.

:Iraizoz, Toquero, Aurtenetxe, Amorebieta, San José, David López, Iturraspe, Llorente, De Marcos, Gabilondo, Raúl, Susaeta, Iraola, Gurpegi, Muniain, Ander Herrera, Ekiza, Javi Martínez y Ibai.

:Andrés Fernández, Riesgo, Marc Bertrán, Damià, Lolo, Miguel Flaño, Roversio, Sergio, Annunziata, Cejudo, Lamah, Nekounam, Puñal, Raúl García, Timor, Ibrahima, Sola y Nino.

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