Athletic Bilbao – Spartak Moscow
Athletic Bilbao welcomes Spartak Moscow in a second leg game from the 1/16-finals of the Europa League. Athletic won the first game in Moscow with 3-1, which gives them a very big advantage before the rematch at the San Mames Barria.
The first leg in Moscow was dissapointing for Spartak. The Russian champions hoped that they’d get a good advantage in front of their own fans. But things didn’t go according to their plan.
Two goals from Aduriz and an own goal from Kutepov gave the Basques a solid lead, before Spartak returning a goal thanks to Luiz Adriano. But even with this goal scored, Spartak’s task before the second leg is almost impossible.
For Spartak and the Russian teams it’s a big problem right now that the domestic Premier League have not began yet. This makes Russian teams lacking a precious match fitness. Of course, they are playing a lot of friendly games, but it can’t give them the same match practice which the league games are giving them.
Now all which Athletic have to do is finish the job they started. Few years ago the Basques reached the Europa League final and now they will try to do it again.
In the Spanish La Liga Athletic are currently 14th in the standings and it’s not a good season for them at all. Their only chance of doing something significant remains performing good in the Europa League. Maybe this is why we saw them so motivated against Spartak in Moscow.
Meanwhile Spartak are 3rd in the Russian Premier League. They are trailing on 8 points behind the leader Lokomotiv, so it won’t be easy for them to defend their title. They must be really flawless in order to do this. And against Athletic Bilbao – they need to be perfect.