Real Betis – Athletic Bilbao | 29/12/2022

Two teams who will expect to be in the mix for a top-four finish in La Liga this season will lock horns on Thursday, with Real Betis welcoming Athletic Bilbao in Seville. Real Betis are currently sixth in Spain’s top flight, boasting 24 points from their opening 14 matches, while Athletic sit fourth, also on 24 points from 14 games in 2022-23.

With more than a month to analyse what went wrong after winning just two of their last eight league matches before the World Cup break (D3, L3), Real Betis have no excuse not to atone for their heaviest loss of the season (L3-0) at Valencia prior to the hiatus. Having played six friendlies in the interim, including a chastening South American tour (L3), they should boast ample fitness and be buoyed by the fact a victory will see them leapfrog the currently fourth-placed Athletic Bilbao going into 2023.

Impressively for a club promoted only in 2015, next year will be the fifth between 2018 and 2023 (inclusive) to see European football grace the Estadio Benito Villamarín after topping their UEFA Europa League group. While this pedigree can only be an asset in search of a UEFA Champions League spot, a top-four La Liga (LL) finish still remains their best chance of dining out at Europe’s top table, perhaps putting more importance on the Verdiblancos continuing their strong LL home form this term (W5, D1, L1).

A ‘mini league’ of teams placed 3rd-9th were separated by just five points at Christmas, but visitors Athletic could be just a win from entering the New Year in third place. That is something they didn’t even achieve in 2013/14, midway through the only season this century to produce a top-four finish, giving the Basque side every incentive to go for the win here.

Athletic last triumphed here five years ago to the month, when Raúl García sparked a 2-0 victory, but a slump on Athletic’s LL travels dating back to the start of October (D2, L2) makes a similar success look less likely, with one of those draws representing a sole point (from a possible 24) across the last eight away league games to see them concede first.


Date: 29/12/2022
Time: 21:15
Venue: Estadio Benito Villamarín (Sevilla)
Pick for this match:
“1” – @ 2.85 ( BETWAY )

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