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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 Real Madrid 19 48
2 Barcelona 20 47
3 Atletico Madrid 20 44
4 Valencia 20 41
5 Sevilla 19 39
6 Villarreal 20 38
7 Malaga 20 32
8 Eibar 20 27
9 Espanyol 20 26
10 Rayo Vallecano 20 23
11 Real Sociedad 20 22
12 Celta Vigo 20 21
13 Athletic Bilbao 20 20
14 Getafe 20 20
15 Cordoba 20 18
16 Deportivo La Coruna 20 18
17 Elche 20 17
18 Almeria 20 16
19 Levante 20 16
20 Granada 20 15

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