Spartak Moscow vs Athletic Bilbao: Preview, Team News, Likely lineups, And Prediction
Otkrytiye Arena will host the match which will be the first competitive match played in the stadium after the turn of the year.
Europa League knock-out stages commence from Thursday, February 15 and Spartak Moscow and Athletic Bilbao face off against each other in the first leg of the Europa League round of 32 fixtures.
The Russian league has a long winter break because of the conditions are unfavorable during December, January, and February. As a result, the hosts for the match, Spartak Moscow’s last competitive game was in the Main Derby, against CSKA Moscow. They came out of the match as comfortable winners with a 3-0 score-line.
The ten times Russian Premier League champions currently occupy the third position in the league with 37, level on points with Zenit St. Petersburg who are second and eight points off league leaders Lokomotiv.
Spartak were relegated to the Europa League after a poor campaign in the Champions League. They finished third in their group behind leaders Liverpool and Sevilla. They were thrashed 7-0 in their last group match by Liverpool, thanks to a Philipe Coutinho hat-trick. They still have a chance of lifting a European silverware through the Europa League.
The visitors are winless in five of their previous matches in all competition and, as a result, come into the game low on confidence. They were held off by Las Palmas at home and the outcome of the match sees them struggling at the bottom half of the table with only 28 points from 23 games.
They finished their Europa League group stages in a high, traveling to Ukraine and beating FC Zoyra to clinch the top spot of their group. They had drawn two and lost one of their first three group stage matches and were tipped to get knock out but after three consecutive wins, they finished above Ostersunds FK as the group leaders.
Head to Head
This will be the first time Spartak Moscow and Athletic Bilbao go head to head in their club’s history.
Players to Watch
The Dutchman has hit 10 goals in the Russian Premier League from the wings and is the league’s second top scorer. Adding to his league goals, he also managed to net in two in the champions league.
The thirty-seven-year-old Spaniard is still going strong in the league and the Europa League. The veteran striker has managed to find the net eight times already this season in the league. However, he has been exceptional in the Europa league with his last three appearances yielding five goals.
Massimo Carrera will not be able to call upon some prominent figures of their team for the match due to injuries. Left-back Georgi Tigiev ruptured his cruciate ligament back in September and is likely to come back for training in March.
Midfielder Jano Ananidize is sidelined due to an ankle injury and center-back Giorgi Jikia is out for the whole of this season after a cruciate ligament rupture.
Jose Angel Ziganda has his star winger Iker Muniain sidelined due to cruciate ligament rupture and might miss the whole season.
Experienced left back Mikel Balenziaga will not feature in the match because of a muscle injury. but he is expected to be back in training within this week.
Spartak Moscow vs Athletic Bilbao Key Facts
Spartak vs Athletic Bilbao Lineup (Predicted XI)
Spartak Moscow Lineup (4-2-3-1)
Eskchenko (RB) – Tasci (CB) – Kutepov (CB) – Kombarov (LB)
Fernando (CM) – Glushakov (CM)
Melgarejo (RM) – Samedov (CAM) – Promes (LM)
Athletic Bilbao Lineup (4-2-3-1)
De Marcos (RB) – Yeray Alvarez (CB) – Inigo Martinez (CB) – Saborit (LB)
Mikel Rico (CM) – Iturraspe (CM)
Inaki Williams (RM) – Raul Garcia (CAM) – Susaeta (LM)
Spartak Moscow vs Athletic Bilbao Prediction
The cold winter night in Moscow might be a key factor in determining the result as the Spaniards are equipped to playing in warmer temperatures. But Athletic Bilbao’s players will be pumped as this cup competition might be the only way to salvage some pride.
Spartak haven’t played competitively in around two months played competitively in about two months, and it might be hard for the players to step up a gear after some club friendlies.
Our Prediction: Spartak Moscow 1-1 Athletic Bilbao