Real Madrid welcome Athletic Bilbao to the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday afternoon, kicking off at 4:15pm local time in Spain. The visitors come into the game as the more in-form team, as they hope to inflict further misery on an unacceptable Real Madrid campaign.

Home Team: Real Madrid

Zinedine Zidane’s comeback to management at Real Madrid had an immediate impact with a few positive results, but the honeymoon period is over, if it had barely started, as they have been poor in recent performances. Defeat to Valencia was fully deserved, and in their most recent fixture, they were unable to put away mid-table Leganes. Dropping points in that fixture keeps them 4 points behind Atletico Madrid with 6 games to play.

Players are still putting in abject performances, and it’s fair to say that the only player that continues to turn up for the Los Blancos is French striker Karim Benzema, who has scored Real Madrid’s last five goals. There is going to be a huge change at the club in the summer, with many high-fee players coming in, and some underperforming Galacticos will be free to go.

On the short term focus though, they’ll need to get a win here on Sunday against a challenging Bilbao side.

Away Team: Athletic Bilbao

Athletic Bilbao’s start to the season was relatively poor, and they were labouring down in the bottom half of the table. However, since the turn of the new year, their performances and results have been far better, and have achieved many commendable results in recent months. They were able to hold Barcelona at home, and on another night may have nicked the victory, and they also beat Atletico Madrid just a fortnight ago to end their title chances.

Their form has taken them to 7th position which looks to be enough to secure a Europa League qualification place for next season – which would be a great achievement for the club. There is still tough competition directly with Real Betis, and Alaves, but at the moment they have the destiny in their own hands, and the form on their side. Local boy Inaki Williams is the club’s top scorer with 12 goals this season, and comes into this fixture after scoring a brace in his last outing against Rayo Vallecano.

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Head to Head

There is has been little between these two sides in recent meetings, with the last three matches ending in a draw – including the reverse fixture this season, which saw Iker Munain take the lead for the hosts, with Isco equalising later on.

In this respective fixture from last season, Real Madrid were held 1-1, but that was the first time that Bilbao had taken points from Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in 13 years, having lost every game since 2005, where they had famously won 2-0. You’d have to feel that this would be a perfect time for them to end that wait for another victory here.

Predictions and Betting Tips Real Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao

Real Madrid are strong favourites to win at 2/5, with the visitors priced at 11/2. For the sides to draw, that is at 18/5. It’s hard to back Real Madrid this season, even at home, as they have dropped points to 5 teams at home this season, including four losses.

Therefore, the 2/5 odds of a home win don’t give great value, so I’d back an audacious 2-2 draw, priced at 14/1. Karim Benzema has scored 5 in the last four matches, and he is at 6/5 to score any time throughout the match, which is wise as I cannot see anyone else who is a big goals scoring threat for them. If you feel you have to back Real Madrid to win, you can boost odds significantly by betting on them to win by a 1-goal margin (3/1) or to win with a clean sheet at 7/4.

Finally, for the visitors, they have been able to keep out Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in recent months, and that are at a generous 17/2 to keep a clean sheet.

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