Home Spartak Moscow

15/02/2018 Kick Off:  6:00 pm Otkrytiye Arena V Predicted Score:1 - 1

Away Athletic Bilbao

Match Summary

1 Look out for:

This is likely to be cagey and tight, with Spartak still feeling their way back into action and Athletic looking to get the job done in Russia and build for the second leg. Bilbao have proven to be masters of containment in recent seasons, but if you fancy something a bit less exciting than the predicted score, a 0-0 draw is priced at 8/1.

2 We fancy:

Aduriz has been the key man in Europe for Athletic Bilbao in the last five seasons, and he has proved vital again in 2017-18 with five goals in Europe so far. He will be a threat for the Russian side, and if there is to be a goal in this game he is the most likely to score it. The Spain international is 15/4 to score first on Thursday night.

3 It's a long shot, but…

Despite their lack of football in recent weeks and months, Spartak will still want to put on a performance in front of their home fans. Adriano is the headline name in their ranks, but Quincy Promes, who has been linked with a move to the Premier League is the main goal threat. The Dutch striker is their top scorer this season with 12 goals in all competitions, including two goals in the last game before the winter break. He is priced at 10/1 to score two or more goals against Bilbao.

Team News

Spartak Moscow's Last Six:

Won: 4 Drawn: 1 Lost:1

Spartak should have no fresh injury concerns following an extended winter break from domestic action.

Brazilian trio Adriano, Fernando and Pedro Rocha Neves should all start for the hosts.

Athletic Bilbao's Last Six:

Won: 1 Drawn: 4 Lost: 1

Athletic’s only injury concern is over midfielder Ander Iturraspe, who is recovering from a knee injury, with Mikel San Jose set to step in.

Key attacking pair Aritz Aduriz and Inaki Williams are both fit to start.

Spartak Moscow vs Athletic Bilbao Betting Tips, Preview & Predictions

The Otkrytiye Arena will also host fixtures at World Cup 2018 later this year, including Argentina vs Iceland

Conditions in Russia are likely to be difficult for playing too much football, with the temperature set to be well below zero and snow forecast. Bilbao will need the experience of their senior players like Aduriz and Raul Garcia to navigate this tricky tie, and ensure they still have something to play for in the return leg.

The visitors are well adept at nullifying opponents, and the task of keeping Adriano and co quiet will not daunt them on Thursday night, and they will be confident of winning in Spain.

A draw is priced at 11/5, and as a result it would not represent a bad outcome for the Spanish club, who are not in the greatest of recent form after their own winter break.

Spartak are well short of match fitness and that is likely to be their undoing in terms of picking up a home win, in fact if they are not guarded against it, Bilbao being the canny operators they are could even pick up a win – priced at 2/1.

Goals are not really expected to be plentiful in this game, with Bilbao scoring just three goals in their last five games, and a low scorer is almost guaranteed – with an under 2.5 goals bet priced at 8/11.

Predicted Score: Spartak Moscow 1 - 1 Athletic Bilbao

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Written by Feargal Brennan

Feargal Brennan is a long-suffering Everton fan who turned to European football for respite from the Toffees’ struggles. A frequent radio contributor, Feargal writes on football and betting and is an expert in how to cope when you support a forever frustrating football team.