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Spanish Primera BBVA

Estadi Cornella-El Prat (ATT 32,000) 11th September 2011 - Kick off 21:00 Ref: C Velasco Carballo

Espanyol Espanyol vs Athletic Bilbao Ath Bilbao

Espanyol 2

Sergio Garcia (25, 74)

ft

Ath Bilbao 1

F Llorente (62)

Espanyol v Athletic Bilbao preview

By Steve Harrison - @The2020.   Last Updated: 10/09/11 12:23pm

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Bielsa: Leading Bilbao into a new era

Bielsa: Leading Bilbao into a new era

A season of promise ended in disappointment for Espanyol last year as they finished short of a spot in Europe despite spending much of the season in the top six.

SKY BET MATCH ODDS

Espanyol 7/5, Athletic Bilbao 19/10, Draw 23/10. Bet now

Young manager Mauricio Pochettino built a squad which seemingly run out of steam in the last few months of the season, and despite a summer of upheaval as key players departed, the philosophy has remained in tact.

A number of bright signings have been bought to the club in the off-season, and despite the late departure of key striker Pablo Osvaldo the feeling around the club is that a place in Europe is not beyond them.

By coincindence this weekend's opponents, Athletic Bilbao, were the side who took sixth spot and the final European place during the 2010/11 season.

Athletic started the season with a point at home to newly promoted Rayo Vallecano, much to the disappointment of the fans. They will be looking to kick-start their season at Estadi Cornellà-El Prat, although their away form last season was all denied them a top four spot with just six wins from their 19 trips out of the Basque region.

Marcelo Biesla, whose only previous stint in Spain was as Espanyol manager, was appointed in charge at Athletic during the off-season and will find himself under immediate pressure to better last season's finish; but with Fernando Llorente staying at the San Mames, many believe this is well within the club's reach.

Defensively there are still questions raised about Athletic Bilbao and it is certainly an area they will need to improve on, and for this weekend's clash they'll take hope from their defence facing an Espanyol side who have needed to adjust to life without Osvaldo.

Pochettino will also be hoping his defence make improvements on last year's efforts and will be looking for his side to pick up their first points of the season after a 1-0 defeat at Real Mallorca on the opening day.

Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals - evens

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Matches

Table

Spanish Primera BBVA

Spanish Primera BBVA
Pos Team P Pts
1 Atletico Madrid 33 82
2 Real Madrid 33 79
3 Barcelona 33 78
4 Athletic Bilbao 33 62
5 Sevilla 33 56
6 Villarreal 33 52
7 Real Sociedad 33 51
8 Valencia 33 44
9 Espanyol 33 41
10 Levante 33 40
11 Malaga 33 38
12 Celta Vigo 33 37
13 Granada 33 37
14 Rayo Vallecano 33 37
15 Elche 33 35
16 Osasuna 33 34
17 Real Valladolid 33 32
18 Getafe 33 31
19 Almeria 33 30
20 Real Betis 33 22

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