The wonderful AS readers have spoken (by way of voting) and have chosen to have Cal narrate the Sevilla vs. Athletic Bilbao game on Thursday night. And so, your wish is our command..
A massive hello and welcome to our match preview and live coverage of Sevilla vs Athletic Bilbao in week 25 of the 2016/17 LaLiga Santander season, to be played at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan at 21:30 CET on Thursday 2nd March 2017.
Sevilla vs Athletic Bilbao: LaLiga week 25 preview
Both Ernesto Valverde and Jorge Sampaoli have been mentioned as two of the leading candidates to replace Luis Enrique at Barcelona but both have unfinished business at their respective clubs. Sampaoli is looking to win LaLiga and Valverde tries to urge his team into European contention following an inconsistent season.
A 2-1 victory in the Seville derby against Real Betis gave credence, if any was needed, to Sampaoli's sides title credentials. 1-0 down, away from home, in the second half of one of the most heated rivalries in Europe. Sevilla answered with two late goals to earn all three points and keep pressure on Real Madrid and Barcelona, who might prefer to just have to focus on each other without the added annoyance of a third-party in their title race. Sevilla's have lost three times all season and one of those losses came against Athletic Bilbao when they were beaten 3-1 at the new San Mames.
Sevilla will have to do without Steven N'Zonzi, Pablo Sarabia and Nicola Pareja, who were all booked in their last game and will serve suspensions while Clement Lenglet remains out with a muscle injury. Iborra is likely to feature after his goal to win the derby along with Matias Kranevitter and Montoya as a Pareja replacement.
Ernesto Valverde's side brushed Granada aside last weekend but will be faced with an entirely different beast on Thursday night. their opponents will have to rotate and change a number of faces leaving Valverde and his staff with somewhat of an unknown enemy before them at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. Athletic Bilbao currently sit eighth in the league but a win would push them ahead of Eibar and just one point behind Villarreal in their race for Europe. Their inconcisteny this season though has left them reeling every time they have chanced a run up the table.
Raul Garcia has served a suspension and will return but Aduriz has a hamstring injury that forced him out of the Granada game. Marcos and Balenziaga are also doubts.
Players to watch
Sami Nasri has proven indispensable to Jorge Sampaoli. There is an argument to be made that he is Sevilla's player of the year and he would probably win hands down were it not for Steve N'Zonzi's rise to the cream of the crop amongst Europe's central midfielders. In the absence of the lanky French midfielder, Nasri will be even more important to Sampaoli's plot to get three points.
If Athletic Bilbao are to get anything from this game, Beñat will need to see plenty of the ball. He is their main creative force from midfield and the outlet for defenders, who will likely be pressed hard by Sevilla. Expect Beñat to either sink or swim against Sampaoli's tactics but either way, he will be a key player to watch.
Sevilla vs Athletic Bilbao: odds
A euro on Ernesto Valverde's men will get you over a fiver in returns while Sevilla are the favourites at around 13/8.