Real Sociedad v Athletic Bilbao Betting Tips: Hosts to get the better of Basque rivals

Mar 10 2017

Sunday’s Spanish football kicks off with the Basque derby between Real Sociedad and Atheltic Bilbao at Anoeta – a fixture that served up a five-goal cracker earlier in the campaign.

In recent years, this fixture has been a real battle between two teams fighting it out for European football and, with Sociedad currently in 5th, albeit somewhat comfortably, and Bilbao in 7th, this year isn’t much different.

On their day, both of these two sides are very easy on the eye, they play an attractive possession game and are capable of creating plenty of scoring chances in doing so. However, Sociedad are the team in better form right now and, on their own patch, will surely fancy their chances of outdoing their rivals.

Bilbao are a team who’ve really struggled to get it together on their travels of late, failing to win any of their last eight away from home (all competitions). Such form is certainly not what’s needed ahead of a trip to Anoeta – a notoriously tough place to go. With this in mind, coupled with the fact that Sociedad have, for the most part, looked good at home this season, backing the hosts makes plenty of sense here. ‘Real Sociedad to Win’ and ‘Real Sociedad to Score Over 1.5 Goals’ are two ways to approach this one.

In front of a home crowd, Eusebio Sacristán’s side have not only played some particularly eye-catching football, but they’ve generally been quite hard to beat. Considering Bilbao’s problems on the road, this bodes well for the hosts. They may have lost out by the narrowest of margins to both Villarreal and Barcelona in recent times, but it would be fair to say that the visitors have been some way off that level this season, while Sociedad have got the job done with minimal fuss in almost all of their other fixtures on home soil.

On their day, this Sociedad team are more than capable of scoring goals and have notched at least twice in six of their home matches this season, as well as in three of their last five overall. Consider this in conjunction with the fact that Bilbao have been conceding an alarming amount on the road of late – nine in their last five in the league – and it’s not hard to envisage the home side enjoying plenty of forward success.

In addition to the visitors’ defensive woes, they’re finding goals of their own very hard to come by when playing away from home. Having found the oppositions’ net on just seven occasions during their 12 away matches in La Liga this season, Bilbao are without a goal on the road in their last five (all competitions). Ernesto Valverde’s side often rely on Aritz Aduriz to provide the goals, but the veteran has recently been out with injury and is unlikely to return in time for this fixture.

Sociedad are also without their main man in attack as Willian José continues his recovery from injury, but they will be boosted by the return of another important attacking player as Juanmi comes back from suspension.

Right now, the hosts simply look stronger than their Basque rivals, particularly in front of goal. Against a team who simply cannot score away from home, Sociedad have an excellent opportunity to keep the pressure on Atlético Madrid in 4th place and are fancied to do just that.

Read more La Liga tips here.

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