Real Madrid and Athletic Club Bilbao face-off in Sunday's Spanish Super Cup final. Liam Kelly previews the clash, picking out a best bet.
1.5pts Athletic Club to win with +1 goal handicap at 6/5 (General)
Real Madrid ousted Barcelona at the semi-final stage in midweek, beating their rivals 3-2 after extra-time in a typically entertaining match-up.
This game might be tougher for Carlo Ancelotti's men, though, facing a Bilbao side in good form. They came from behind to win 2-1 against Atlético Madrid on Thursday night, gaining a place in the final of a competition they won last year.
Of course, Real Madrid are fancied to lift the trophy this time, odds-on favourites and sitting 21 points clear of Athletic Club in La Liga, but there is reason to believe that Bilbao will give them problems in Riyadh.
Marcelino's side have posted excellent underlying metrics this season, an underperformance on attacking numbers seemingly holding them back from a much higher position.
They've scored just 20 goals from 33.2 expected goals for (xGF) in the league. Incredibly, it is a situation that has improved in recent weeks, with the Williams brothers and co. finding form.
Further regression to the mean can be expected, however. Coupled with an impressive defensive process, allowing an average of 1.07 expected goals against (xGA) per game in La Liga, Bilbao aren't too far off the level of Real from a data perspective.
Real Madrid hold a +16.7 expected goal difference (xGD) in the league. Athletic Club have posted a +11.4 xGD thus far.
Two recent games between the teams also offer confidence in the selection for the Super Cup final — ATHLETIC CLUB TO WIN WITH A +1 GOAL HANDICAP.
An early December meeting displayed Bilbao's problems with finding that back of the net at the time perfectly, missing four big chances in a narrow 1-0 defeat at the Bernabeu (xG: RMA 2.15 - 2.84 BIL).
Just three weeks later, Marcelino's men were again a little unfortunate to be beaten by Real, limiting the La Liga leaders to just 1.04 xG in the 2-1 defeat at San Mames.
If they put in a similar performance, which is a distinct possibility between two sides a little more closely-matched than the prices suggest, the 6/5 available for Bilbao to win or draw is solid value.
Score prediction: Athletic Club 1-1 Real Madrid (Sky Bet odds: 6/1)
Odds correct at 1200 GMT (14/01/22)
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