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Europa League: Athletic Bilbao - Inter Baku

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Europa League: Athletic Bilbao - Inter Baku

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Europa League: Athletic Bilbao - Inter Baku

Big gulf in class between these two and Inter who were only founded in 2004, have made this stage of the competition for the first time in seven attempts. They will likely be a little ahead in terms of match sharpness, given that they have already played four competitive matches in the Europa League, but that is balanced by a shorter off season and like Athletic, they have yet to begin their domestic campaign. Athletic have a history of success in this competition and Spanish clubs always treat it with respect, which is something we have discussed many times previously and seven of the last twelve winners have come from La Liga, a Champions League spot came along with Sevilla's success last season and Bilbao will know that this competition provides their "easiest" route into the premier international club competition.

Hosts are little changed from last season when they finished 7th in La Liga, following a strong finish to their campaign which saw them collect 36 points ( 1.89 pg) over the second half of the season and also make the Copa del Rey final. That form over a full season (72 points) equates very close to top 4 (Champions League level) , infact, Atletic were 4th in 13/14 with just 70 points and they will certainly enter this campaign full of optimism. They have named their strongest available squad today and it is one full of quality and only really missing Mikel Rico and hugely gifted Iker Munian, but they learned to win without the talented left winger who missed much of the end of last season and should be able to secure a big enough lead in the firts leg to make the return little more than a training game.

Although their Spainish season doesn't start for another three weeks, they are well ahead in terms of preparation as they have a two legged Super Cup match up with Barcelona up first and want to be at full speed for those games.

Athletic Bilbao -2 goals 1.84 asian line/Sportmarket.


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