skip to content
Aiming to upset the odds at San Mamés
Aiming to upset the odds at San Mamés

Villarreal will be looking to surprise recent Copa del Rey winners Athletic Club (Sunday, 6.30pm CEST)

Villarreal will be looking to spring a surprise this Sunday, at 6:30pm CEST, when they visit San Mamés to face the Copa del Rey champions, Athletic Club, who lifted the title last weekend and which the city of Bilbao bas been celebrating in recent days.

Marcelino’s side approach the clash, corresponding to matchday 31 of the 2023/24 LALIGA EA SPORTS season, as an opportunity to stay alive in the fight for the European places. With eight games remaining, the Yellows are tenth and six points off seventh place, which woild give them access to the UEFA Europa Conference League next season. A win on such a high-profile stage would further tighten a battle in which Valencia, Betis and Osasuna are all involved, as well as the Yellows.

Despite the defeat last time out against Atlético de Madrid (1-2), in which Marcelino’s side played some great football and the game was extremely even, the Submarine will travel to Bilbao with the clear objective of fighting for the three points, thanks to the last two months of the season, in which Villarreal went nine games unbeaten and achieved valuable victories in prestigious stadiums such as the Lluis Companys (3-5), the Reale Arena (1-3) and the Benito Villamarín (2-3).

Athletic Club, for their part, come into the game fresh from being crowned Copa del Rey champions after beating RCD Mallorca (1-1) last Saturday in a penalty shoot-out, so they will be looking to celebrate their triumph – after having done so away from San Mamés – at home too, with a win in front of a home crowd euphoric about their team’s recent success. Apart from the cup triumph, it should not be overlooked that the Basque side is one of the strongest teams in LALIGA. They are in the fight for the Champions League, sitting in fifth place with 56 points, just two points behind Atlético de Madrid in fourth.

San Mamés is also one of the most difficult stadiums to visit in Spanish football. The Basques have only lost once at home this season. And that was their first game of the season against Real Madrid.

It will be a tough task for the Submarine, whose last win in Bilbao dates back to the 2018/19 season. In that campaign, the Yellows beat the Basque side 0-3, with Pablo Fornals putting in a memorable individual performance. In their 26 visits to San Mamés, the Yellows have managed a total of six wins.

Officiating team

Guillermo Cuadra Fernández will be the principal referee and will be assisted by Francisco Hernández Maeso on VAR.