Football News

La Liga Preview: Athletic Bilbao v Real Madrid

Created on 01 Feb., 2014 10:00 AM GMT

Real Madrid's 20-match unbeaten streak will come under threat when they travel to fourth-placed Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Carlo Ancelotti's side may be chasing down a four-point deficit by the time their game gets under way, with joint La Liga leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid both playing before Real.

And with Athletic sitting fourth, 11 points behind Real, the title race looks set to be contested three ways.

Barca host Valencia on Saturday, while Atletico face Real Sociedad just hours before Real Madrid play.

Real have been in exceptional form recently, with their last defeat in any competition coming at Camp Nou on October 26.

They have won 17 of their 20 matches since, form that has seen them reach the Copa del Rey semi-finals and the UEFA Champions League's last 16.

Forwards Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema have helped Real become the most prolific side in the Spanish top flight, with 60 goals this term.

Welshman Gareth Bale has also chipped in with eight goals from 14 league appearances, but he could be sidelined with a leg injury.

Real won all eight matches in the first month of 2014 without conceding a goal, making it their best January ever.

They face a Bilbao outfit with an imposing home record, though, with Ernesto Valverde's side yet to lose a match at San Mames in all competitions this season.

And although they lost in the Copa del Rey to Atletico Madrid on Wednesday, bowing out 3-1 on aggregate, they have won their last three league matches, scoring freely in the process.

A 6-1 thrashing of Almeria on January 11 was followed by 4-2 and 5-1 successes against Real Valladolid and Osasuna.

History is on Real's side in meetings between the two, having won the last eight meetings in comfortable fashion, scoring at least three goals in all of their triumphs.

An Isco double helped Real to a 3-1 win in the match earlier this season, while Cristiano Ronaldo also scored in the home triumph.

Centre-back Raphael Varane is back in training for the visitors following a knee problem, but is yet to return to first-team action.

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