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Real Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao: The likely possibilities for Los Blancos

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Real Madrid FC welcome Basque outfit Athletic Bilbao to the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night in a game that could be best described as one being played for pride, as the La Liga title is as good as wrapped up by Barcelona. However, Real Madrid will still have their eyes on a second place finish, as city rivals Atletico Madrid only have a four points gap advantage, although the Wanda Metropolitano outfit has to slip for this to be possible.

As Madrid look to finish as high as possible below first place for a team of their standards, there is also the little worry of Valencia who sit on the third spot, and trail the Los Blancos by just 2 points. Valencia will be harboring the aspirations of finishing above Real Madrid if given the chance, and it’s therefore, a no-brainer that Bilbao must leave the Bernabeu on Wednesday night with 0 points in the bag.

Zinedine Zidane’s side could be set for the return of hitman Cristiano Ronaldo who was rested in the game away to Malaga after converting the penalty that saw Madrid progress to the semifinal stage of the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League. Others stepped up in his absence though, as Isco and Casemiro produced the goods in goals that saw Madrid run away 2:1 winners away to Malaga.

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Real Madrid have no game this weekend as scheduled opponents Sevilla have a date with Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final, and this should afford Ronaldo the opportunity for more rest even if he exerts himself much in the course of the game as the Portuguese man will be keen to add to his impressive tally.

The only unavailable player for Madrid remains Nacho who still remains sidelined by the first injury of his footballing career, but will be back soon. Therefore, Zidane has a full house to pick from. Another likely starter could be Gareth Bale as Benzema may be relegated to the bench. Meanwhile, the Los Blancos have no players suspended from today’s game.

The defence line could also see the return of Marcelo and Raphael Varane who were also rested as Theo Hernandez and Jesus Vallejo were given a run-in against Malaga. The attention will surely be on Isco, as there may still be doubts on his newly found form, although the class has always been there. The game against Athletic Bilbao gives him the chance to show that his newly found form and impact for the Los Blancos is no fluke.

  • The last 5 meetings between the sides have ended in 4 wins for Madrid and a goalless draw.  Bilbao have scored in 8 of their last 10 games against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu in the La Liga. Madrid emerged winners in all 10 encounters.

VERDICT : Outright win for Real Madrid.  Will the Los Blancos concede? We wait to see.