Real Madrid v Athletic Bilbao: 3 things that could shape the outcome of La Liga game

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In just two weeks time, Real Madrid face Atletico Madrid in a local derby which will probably define which of the two becomes the main challengers to Barcelona in the final weeks of the season.

Malaga away just beforehand is another tough tie for Zinedine Zidane's men, hence this weekend's fixture with Athletic Bilbao becomes hugely important for Los Blancos.

Still trailing the leaders by a distance, Real can't afford to concentrate on what's happening elsewhere.


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Just ensure that they win their own games and let other business take care of itself.

Bilbao have hugely under performed at various stages this season, equally there have been some outstanding and unexpected wins.

Ernesto Valverde must be tearing his hair out at the lack of consistency from his troops. Do they have enough to spring another surprise at the Santiago Bernabeu?

Imperious Real

When Los Leones pitch up at the home of Real Madrid, they do so with the weight of history firmly against them.

Over the course of the last 13 years, Athletic have lost every single game played at the Santiago Bernabeu.

On only one occasion have they managed to score more than a single goal.

Rather than mentally allowing themselves to be beaten before they even take to the field, it's time that Valverde et al came up with a game plan to frustrate their opponents.

Look at the way in which Granada almost ground out a point against them last time out.

It might not be pretty, but sometimes utilising a game plan that's effective is far more appealing than aesthetics.

Inaki the man?

Inaki Williams continues to make a name for himself at the new San Mames.

The young flying winger is proving a handful for most defenders and with Marcelo now out injured, Real could be in trouble down their left side.

Zidane doesn't have too many options in the left-back area of the pitch and may be forced to play either Danilo or Dani Carvajal there as cover.

Hardly the most ideal scenario when up against a player of Williams' quality.

With Aritz Aduriz also in fine form despite his advancing years, Williams' raiding from the right side and his decent delivery could be the difference in this game.

Midfield dominance

Whoever wins the battle in the middle of the park will emerge victorious here.

Benat Exteberria will tigerishly battle for every ball and whether up against Luka Modric, Toni Kroos or Isco, the Athletic man will not give his opponents a moments peace.

Real are used to easing through the gears in that area of the pitch, sweeping moves which end with laser guided passes to the front three.

If the visitors can close that particular avenue centrally, they've a chance to forge ahead themselves.

Benat and his midfield colleagues will certainly leave everything out there on the pitch and it won't be for the want of trying should they end up on the losing side.

What will be the final score in this one? Have YOUR say in the comment box below!

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James Rodriguez
Cristiano Ronaldo
Karim Benzema
La Liga
Real Madrid
Gareth Bale
Athletic Bilbao

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