Athletic Bilbao vs APOEL
Competition: Europa League
Date: 16 February 2017
Kick-off: 19:00 CET
Athletic Bilbao are much more of a household name, but even they have to concede to be the underdogs in a game against APOEL, the team from Cyprus that surprised many by topping their group comfortably.
APOEL, in group B, managed to get ahead of the likes of Olympiacos and BSC Young Boys with their efficient play, they did lose two games, but they also won four and that put them comfortably above the challengers who both ended on eight points. However, in Group B, the competition was not perhaps as strong as what Bilbao had to deal with so it could be that the team from Cyprus may enter this clash a little underdone or even a little too confident. They will have to travel away, to a partisan Spanish crowd, which will no doubt have its say in the matter, and for APOEL to try and assert themselves in the first leg, they are going to have to be at their best.
Bilbao on the other hand will not know too much about APOEL, and they will be largely welcoming an unknown entity to Spain. However, having battled it out with the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid season after season, they will be well prepared. Currently Athletic are sitting in eighth on the spanish log, a pretty impressive feat with the talent that abounds. They will also feel that they can do better than what they showed in the group stages of the Europa League as they lost out on top spot by just two points to Genk, thanks to one more draw than the team above.
Athletic Bilbao vs APOEL: Group stage form
APOEL did lose two, but the story of their group was that they won four with small margins. Their goal difference was just two as they scored eight and conceded six to top the group after six games.
Bilbao had to settle for second spot after they drew a game that Genk managed to win. But their story was also told in the goals difference, which was only minus one – but because they scored a lot, 10, but also conceded a lot, 11.
Athletic Bilbao vs APOEL: Prediction
Bilbao are a team that is in the limelight and facing tough opposition week in and week out, they will feel confident at home about taking on the Cypriot team and will be the ones aiming for a win, rather than just a draw.
Athletic Bilbao vs APOEL: Tips
APOEL know how to be competitive, and Bilbao know how to score goals, but also concede. So it makes for a close game where both sides should score. Bet on a one-goal margin for Bilbao to win.