By 90Min
December 01, 2017

After a poor start to the season, reigning Spanish champions Real Madrid look to continue their recovery of sorts when they travel to Athletic Bilbao on Saturday night. The Basque club have struggled so far as they sit narrowly above the drop zone whilst Los Blancos look to try and catch up to leaders Barcelona.

Here's all you need to know about Saturday's La Liga clash:


Classic Encounter

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Meetings between the two sides are never dull, but they played out a true classic during the 2008/09 season. In a season where Barcelona romped to the treble in their first season under Pep Guardiola, Real traveled to San Memes in an attempt to keep up the pressure on their Clasico rivals. A thrilling first half saw Real go 2-0 up with a brilliant solo goal by Arjen Robben and Gabriel Heinze's header. 

Real were then stunned as Heinze then put his through his own net and a clanger from Iker Casillas saw him flap Fernando Llorente's header into the net, making it 2-2 going into half time. This thrilling encounter continued in the same vein after the break, however Real were ruthless as a superb quick fire double from Klaas Jan Huntelaar and a penalty from a young Argentine forward called Gonzalo Higuain made it 5-2. 

Bilbao had chances but a mixture of poor finishing and quality goalkeeping from Iker Casillas ensured a superb three points for Real.


Team News

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Bilbao suffered a surprising cup exit in the week to lower league opposition, and are likely to name a changed side after playing an experimental side, as are Real Madrid. The hosts are likely to name near enough the same side that drew with Deportivo last weekend, a game which ended 2-2.

Real have Gareth Bale back from a calf injury but the Welshman is likely to be on the bench. After being rested in last week's win over Malaga, both Luka Modric and Sergio Ramos look set to return to the starting XI.

Some disappointing displays from Kiko Castilla in goal mean manager Zinedine Zidane will be delighted to have Keylor Navas back and the Costa Rican is another who is likely to go straight back in the starting XI.


Potential Athletic Bilbao XI: Arrizabalanga, Boveda, Nunez, Laporte, Balenziaga, Iturraspe, Mikel Rico, Williams, De Marcos, Susaeta, Adruiz.


Potential Real Madrid XI: Navas, Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo, Casemiro, Kroos, Modric, Isco, Benzema, Ronaldo.


Prediction

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Bilbao are usually a force at home but have struggled domestically this season. Despite that, they have a talented squad which can cause Los Blancos issues and expose the weaknesses that have been exposed so far this season.

Real have improved with 11 goals in three games and may well have too much quality. Bilbao will offer some resistance but it's hard to see Real's recent improvement ending against a severely out of form home side which has has struggled to get their season going.

A relatively high scoring win for the La Liga champions looks likely here.

Prediction: Athletic Bilbao 1-3 Real Madrid

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