It is not the best day, nor the best opponent, nor the best time to play a league match; But this is probably the best moment of the two teams that face off in San Mames tonight. Athletic, after being knocked out of the cup, have added nine out of nine in the league which has put them all out in the battle for European places. Sevilla, which was struggling to climb out of the relegation zone at the end of March, gained wind in the table and even qualified for the Europa League semi-finals after its second change of coach.
The duel on the bench between Valverde and Mandilibar is one of the great highlights of the league event, not to mention a discothèque that awaits the Bilbao team and the Seville team at the Rosiblanco stadium, starting at 10 p.m. Hernández Hernández, of the Canary Islands committee, will be in charge of directing this struggle, along with Medi Jiménez, of the Catalan committee, in the VAR.
The Lions know from last Tuesday, when Betis failed to overcome a goalless draw against Real at Villamarin, that winning today means being in a continental position. Fifth or sixth place will depend on what Villarreal does first against Espanyol and, of course, on their own results. A win against Sevilla, more obviously, would allow Athletic to catch up with Pellegrini’s team, a team that has yet to visit San Mames.
Rosiblancos have been in good form in the last three league games. They won more clearly than their 1–2 victories at Cornell and Almería, and their 2–0 win against Real at home was also deserved. Valverde has had casualties, especially in their midfield. Vesaga and Zarga are punished for hoarding and Muniyan is injured. Inigo Martinez is unknown.
Everything indicates that Valverde is going to bet from the start on a Trivote composed of Ander Herrera, Dani Garcia and Sanset. A bet to refer to Athletic’s starting eleven this season would be unprecedented, as it has never been awarded until now. We will also have to wait and see if the Gusts’ coach chooses to balance their strengths keeping in mind that they have to face three games from Thursday to Thursday.
a rival to raise
Sevilla go to their appointment in San Mames with morale high after shunning the ghost of relegation and moving up the table at continental level after beating Manchester United in the quarter-finals of the Europa League. Mandilibar, a much loved and respected technician around these parts, managed to find the key as soon as he landed in Pizjuan,
The Sevillian team, which was in fourteenth place, two points away from salvation when Sampaoli was sacked, who in turn replaced Lopetegui in charge, is in twelfth place five days later, but eight points before the final. With respect to Mandilibar’s Sevilla, in other words, have ten of the last twelve points at stake. Same, no more and no less than athletic.
Nianzhou, Marcao and Jordan are out for this clash in San Mames, with Zaldibar the coach, drawing from the rotation what he saw last Sunday against Villarreal. Templates have a lot to do.
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