Zilina vs Athletic Bilbao Betting Tips

  • 18:15
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    Athletic Bilbao

      Tip Reasoning

      Unless you are Barcelona or Real Madrid, trophies are at a premium in Spain, so there was no convincing Athletic Bilbao that the Super Cup they won on Monday didn’t mean anything as they ended a 31 year trophy drought, by far the longest in the club’s previously illustrious history.

      4 goals from Aritz Aduriz saw Athletic to a famous 5-1 aggregate win over Barca and they’d have been forgiven for celebrating their success. However in reality less than 72 hours separates full-time in Barcelona and kick-off in Slovakia in the Europa League on Thursday.

      There is no doubting the incredible effort that Athletic put into that win. With two games in the space of four days against the best passing team in Europe inevitably they spent a lot of time without the ball, especially in the 2nd leg. Tiredness will certainly be a factor as they head to Zilina and they are likely to make numerous changes from the side that started at Camp Nou with yet another game with Barcelona to come at the weekend in the opening round of La Liga fixtures.

      Bilbao would probably settle for a draw here in the circumstances and given that they have only won one of their last 9 Europa League away matches. They beat Inter Baki 2-0 on aggregate in the last round with Javier Eraso scoring both goals in the home leg but there were no goals in the away leg.

      Zilina are already 4 games into their league campaign so fitness won’t be a problem for them and they may just fancy causing an upset here. They also started in the 1st qualifying round so this is their 4th Europa League tie of the season already and they are aiming to make the group stage for the first time since 2008.

      They comfortably dispatched minnows Glentoran and Dacia of Moldova in the early rounds winning both legs before a much tougher test against Ukranian side Vorskla Poltava in what turned out to be an incredible tie.

      Zilina won at home 2-0 with Matej Jelic on target for the 7th time already in this competition this season. The Slovakians were on the brink of progress but conceded a 90th minute goal in the 2nd leg in Ukraine which levelled the tie at 2-2 and they were reduced to ten men and conceded again early in extra time. With a European exit looming large, Brazilian prospect Willian popped up in stoppage time of Extra time to fire a dramatic late away goal winner for Zilina and set up this tie.

      The Slovaks are unbeaten in their last 7 Europa League home games and should have enough to at least get a draw here at Evens against what is likely to be a much-changed Athletic Bilbao side. Certainly 34 year old forward Aduriz is unlikely to start again so soon after his starring role in the Super Cup and without him, Athletic pose much less of a threat going forward.

      Bilbao will be keen to nick an away goal but would happily take Zilina back to the Basque Country with a 1-1 draw which you can back at 6/1.


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