Welcome to the match preview and live minute-by-minute coverage of the LaLiga Santander encounter between Valencia and Athletic Bilbao at the Mestalla. Kick-off: 16:15 (CET), Sunday 19 February 2017.
Valencia v Athletic Bilbao: match preview
Valencia, down in 15th, welcome Champions League chasing Athletic for one of Spanish football’s classic fixtures. Voro’s side continue in their battle against the drop while the Lions endeavor with their assault on the European positions.
After seeing a slight improvement after the catastrophe of early season, Valencia have returned to poor form, suffering recent defeats in Las Palmas as well as to Eibar. Last week Voro’s men could only manage a dull draw with fellow strugglers Betis at Benito Villamarín, and fans are running out of the little patience they have left.
Valencia have only recorded three wins at home this season, however, Voro will look to take advantage of Athletic’s lack of rest (their Basque opponents competed in the Europa League during the week), and try to get three points on the board that will help calms the nerves around the club. The coach, though, will have to without Rodrigo and Santi Mina, who are still injured.
Ernesto Valverde’s team go into this game on the back of a tough Europa League contest in midweek, having scraped past Apoel Nicosia 3-2 at home. Athletic gave everything for victory in that match, as they did last weekend against Deportivo, resulting in a controversial winner by Aduriz on the day of his 36th birthday.
After the maximum effort exerted, it is presumed that the coach will rotate and give some of his players a rest. Sabin Merino and Kepa remain sidelined, however, so will not be able to enter as reinforcements.
Valencia v Athletic Bilbao: possible lineups
Possible Valencia XI: Diego Alves, Montoya, Aderlan Santos, Mangala, Gayá, Mario Suárez, Parejo, Munir, Orellana, Nani, Santi Mina
Possible Athletic XI: Iraizoz, De Marcos, Yeray, Laporte, Balenziaga, San José, Beñat, Williams, Raúl García, Muniain