After a brief break La Liga is back Friday for matchday 19. The weekend gets started Friday with two fixtures with the biggest game of the weekend being 3rd place Sevilla hosting 7th place Athletic Bilbao.
Sevilla enter play just five points back of first place Barcelona and three points back of second place Real Madrid. They also have a three point lead over Real Sociedad who occupy the first Europa League spot. Not only is Sevilla occupying a Champions League spot, but they are also through to the Europa League knockout rounds and can make a run to the Champions League next season in that.
Athletic Bilbao enter play out of European spots, but are right on the tails of both the Champions League and Europa League spots. Bilbao are in seventh place, but just two points back of the final Europa League spot, currently occupied by Getafe, and just four points back of Atletico Madrid for the final Champions League spot.
Below is my pick for the La Liga action between Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao. All odds are from FanDuel Sportsbook.
Sevilla (-160) vs Athletic Bilbao (+480) Draw (+280)
Sevilla went into the mini Winter break by winning two games in a row and seven of their last 10. The club was on a five game winning streak before a draw and two losses, but won their last two games, both on the road, by a combined 3-0 score. Sevilla are still alive for a Champions League spot, a Copa Del Rey title and a Europa League title. Sevilla are a mid-table home team in La Liga having won 14 points from eight home games, though they have won three of their last five at Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium.
Bilbao went into the Winter break as one of the hottest teams in La Liga, winning six of their last 10 games and losing just one time during that span. Athletic Bilbao went into the break undefeated in their last three after drawing Real Madrid and Eibar, 0-0, and beating CF Intercity in the Copa Del Rey. Bilbao are a mid-table road team having won just eight points from nine road games and winning just once on the road the first half of the year.
Series History: These two clubs have met 157 times and it is Sevilla who narrowly leads 65-29-63. Bilbao does have the better goal differently as they have outscored Sevilla 248-231.
Game Prediction: I like Sevilla to get the win and to stay in the title race a bit longer this season.