Athletic Club Bilbao and Real Madrid will meet in the first round of the new Spanish La Liga season in El Viejo Clasico.

Bilbao and Real will face off in the first round of the 2023-24 La Liga at Estadio San Mames in Bilbao, Spain, on March 13 at 4:30 p.m. ET. Bilbao finished eighth in the league last season with 14 wins, 9 draws, 15 losses and 51 points, while Real finished second with 24 wins, 6 draws and 8 losses and 78 points.

Preseason ‘7 games and 1 win’ + squad vacancies…and the first opponent is ‘Real’

The previous season, Bilbao’s form was consistent. They won 14 of their 38 league games for a 37% win rate, scoring a total of 43 goals and conceding 36, for an average of 1.24 goals and 1.13 goals per game. While this can be considered a decent season, the team failed to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition, going 1-4-1 in their final five league games and failing to pick up more points than expected, so the focus will be on the league again this season.

There are gaping holes in the Bilbao squad this season. Unai Núñez, who played 36 league games last season, and Inigo Martínez, who played 15, have moved on to Celta Vigo and Barcelona, respectively, so the defense won’t be the same.

Reinforcements are needed, but it won’t be easy. That’s because of Bilbao’s unique recruitment policy, which only seeks players who live, were born, played for, or have ancestry in the Basque Country. Bilbao has sold and loaned out more than 15 players in the summer transfer window, including first- and second-teamers, but as of the last 10 days, only three new signings – Javier Marton, Inigo Luis de Galleta, and Ander Herrera – have been made, and they’re all midfielders and forwards, not defenders, where there are gaping holes.

The gaps in the squad are evident in their preseason performance. Bilbao won one, drew three and lost three in seven friendlies between July 4 and August 7. Counting the last five official matches of last season, they have won just two of their last 10 games.

186.2 billion investment strengthens squad, but will ‘No. 9 gap’ be erased?

Real boasted the league’s most potent offense last season. They were the top scoring club in the league with a total of 75 goals, averaging 1.97 goals per game. They also conceded just 36 goals, seven fewer than Bilbao, and had a 63% win rate, second only to Barcelona.

However, Real also had a hole in their squad. Karim Benzema’s departure to Al Ittihad in the Saudi Arabian league meant that along with the star striker, the iconic number nine shirt was also vacant. In addition, other first-team players such as Eden Hazard, Marco Asensio, and Mariano left the team.

Real invested heavily to fill the first-team void before the start of the new season. Last season’s German Bundesliga Player of the Year Jude Bellingham, Brazilian superstar Endrik, new striker Joselu, and Turquoise God Arda Güler, as well as triggering a buy-back clause to add Fran García to the squad to help alleviate the fullback drought from last season. In the process, they spent a total of €128.5 million, making them the club with the most transfer funds in La Liga this summer.

However, in the preseason leading up to the regular season, Benzema’s absence has not been fully addressed. Real used two-top formations such as 4-3-1-2 or 4-1-2-1-2 this preseason, with Vinicius Jr. and Hodriguez leading the attack, but the results were not satisfactory.

From July to August 3, Newcastle faced AC Milan, Manchester United, Barcelona, and Juventus, winning two and losing two, and scoring six goals in those four games. Against Milan and Manchester United, New Face Bellingham, Joselu, and Vinicius scored in back-to-back wins, but against Barcelona, despite taking 29 shots and earning a penalty kick, we couldn’t convert any of them into goals. Against Juventus, Real showed a weakness in finishing, as their opponent took 11 shots and scored three goals, while Real took more than 30 shots and connected on just one.먹튀검증

Bilbao and Real have been more successful in their last five meetings, with Real winning three, drawing one and losing one. Looking more broadly at the head-to-head record of 33, Real still have the edge with 23 wins, 6 draws and 4 losses, while the all-time El Viejo Clasico record is also in their favor with 121 wins, 45 draws and 76 losses.

None of the last five matches have seen a massive scoring spree with more than three goals scored by either team, so there’s plenty of scope for this one to be decided by a single goal.

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