Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao in Basque Grudge Match

In La Liga, almost all the publicity goes the way of Real Madrid and Barcelona, but here at BookieSmash we want to show you matches that will bring you just as much excitement, and potentially more betting value. One match you will want to watch this weekend is the Basque derby between Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao, a game filled with tension and possibilities. Check out our preview and top bets for this game.

Match Preview

When David Moyes joined Real Sociedad, he was following in a tradition of British managers moving to the San Sebastian club. John Toshack, the great former Liverpool player and Swansea, Real Madrid and Wales manager, had success there, and he later recommended his Welsh compatriot Chris Coleman to the club. Hence, Real supporters were not opposed to the idea of Moyes' appointment.

The Scotsman's 11 years at Everton made him one of the Premier League's longest-serving managers, but he left for Manchester United, supported by the departing Sir Alex Ferguson. Of course, Sir Alex has since turned the knife on Moyes, insisting he was not first choice to take over, and the single trophyless season at Old Trafford was a professional nightmare for a man who had the ambition to take United on to great success.

Needing a change of scene, Moyes accepted the offer from Real Sociedad, and although his first half-season was of mixed success, he kept the team in mid-table, achieving the set objective of avoiding relegation from La Liga. 2015/16 has proved more difficult, with Txuriurdin having taken only one win at the time of going to press, against Granada on Tuesday night, Imanol Agirretxe scoring a hat-trick.

Moyes' side is not a bad squad; Carlos Vela, the former Arsenal striker, is a reliable goalscorer, while Portuguese midfielder Bruma has been taken on loan from Galatasaray and Mexican Diego Reyes from Porto, both seemingly smart recruits. However Moyes needs to remember the motivational skills he developed at Everton if he is to avoid being La Liga's first managerial casualty.

By the time you read this, Athletic Bilbao will have played Real Madrid at the iconic San Mames stadium, in the Basque city which is best-known for Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum. The club, in spite of once having Englishman Howard Kendall and Argentine Marcelo Bielsa as coaches, operates under the constraint of only being permitted to play footballers with Basque connections. The club has lofty ambitions, though, a fact confirmed by signing Raul Garcia from Atletico Madrid, under the noses of some higher-ranked European clubs.

Ernesto Vallverde's side, which beat Barcelona to the Spanish Super Cup at the beginning of this season, has to date lost three league games, beating Getafe in its solitary victory. This makes the derby on Sunday that crunchiest of crunch matches - an encounter that could end in the departure of either manager if lost, such is its historical and current importance.

Prediction and Top Bets

Athletic's defence is porous, with the club conceding seven goals in four games this season. The team has also had a shocking start to the season. Real's problem is different - there is a lack of action at either end, and the problem is more endemic in the creative department. Goals will be scored in this game, and such will be the nerves on both sides, we expect defensive errors galore.

A score draw seems a reasonable bet, based on form thus far.

Top Bets:

11/5 for a draw with Unibet

57/17 with Unibet for more than 3.5 goals to be scored

17/1 with BetVictor for a half-time/full-time result of Real Sociedad/Draw

Free Match Bet Up To £25. Bonus Code: "F50"
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