Athletic Bilbao v Lokomotiv Moscow 18:00 Thurs
After struggling to put form together for pretty much the entire season, Athletic Bilbao got back to winning ways on the weekend with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Malaga as Bet365 make them heavy odds on favourites as they face Lokomotiv Moscow in the Europa League tonight.
Before that however, Los Leones had not recorded a victory since January and will hope that the recent win is the beginning of a new run and not just a positive anomaly.
One fact Bilbao will be looking to erase however, is that one of those February losses came against Lokomotiv Moscow in the reverse fixture last week.
The Russian outfit were 1-0 down at halftime thanks to an Iker Muniain finish but managed to turn the fixture around in the second half thanks to goals from Denis Glushakov and Felipe Caicedo.
José Couceiro’s side still face a tough task in holding onto their lead though, when they travel to San Mamés on Thursday.
Despite their inconsistency this campaign, Bilbao have still showed the potential to play attractive football, earning their place in the Copa del Rey final where they will go up against Barcelona.
The Spaniards are also still in the race for a Champions League spot and are currently level on points with fourth placed Espanyol.
Although the La Liga outfit have multiple distractions, battling across several playing fronts, this week’s home encounter presents a good chance for Marcelo Bielsa’s side to make it into the Europa League’s Round of 32 and a step closer to winning the European competition.
With a potential trip to Old Trafford and Manchester United waiting in the next round the incentives are great, but the speculation surrounding Marcelo Bielsa to replace Andre Villas Boas at Chelsea could hinder the home side’s preparation for the game.