Manchester United vs Athletic Bilbao: Pre-season Showdown

Get a preview of the exciting match of Manchester United vs Athletic Bilbao. Check out the team news, playing 11, and our prediction.

In the lead-up to the highly anticipated 2023-24 Premier League season, Manchester United is set to clash with La Liga contenders Athletic Bilbao in an electrifying pre-season friendly taking place in Dublin on a Sunday afternoon. This encounter promises to be a captivating spectacle, offering a glimpse into the strategies and forms of both teams as they gear up for their respective league openers.

Manchester United vs Athletic Bilbao Preview

Manchester United’s pre-season journey has included a notable tour of the United States. While their recent match against Borussia Dortmund ended in a 3-2 defeat and a prior encounter with Real Madrid resulted in a 2-0 loss, the Red Devils’ head coach, Erik ten Hag, is not unduly concerned about these outcomes. Nonetheless, victories in these friendly matches against Lens and Athletic could infuse a vital dose of confidence into the team ahead of their Premier League debut against Wolverhampton Wanderers on August 14.

Tactical Maneuvers

Erik ten Hag’s approach to the forthcoming friendlies retains an element of mystery. While specifics regarding his plans for the Lens and Athletic matches are yet to emerge, it is widely speculated that a second-string lineup might face Athletic Bilbao, with the majority of first-team players getting a chance against Lens. This strategic choice could provide a balance between assessing the depth of the squad and ensuring that key players are optimally prepared for the league opener.

Transfers and Ambitions

Manchester United’s ambitions for the upcoming season are clear: a strong start is imperative. Reflecting this drive, the club is on the verge of confirming Rasmus Hojlund as their third signing for the summer transfer window. The Danish international is poised to join the ranks alongside Mason Mount and Andre Onana, who have already become part of the squad. The potential for further acquisitions before the transfer window closes adds an element of excitement, underscoring the club’s commitment to enhancing its roster.

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Athletic Bilbao’s Summer Trail

Athletic Bilbao, on the other hand, has been engaged in an active summer involving several friendlies. Despite playing a total of six matches, their victories have been scarce, with just one success – a 2-0 triumph over Necaxa on July 20. The team’s preseason journey saw them draw with Racing Santander and Eibar, along with losses to Gimnastic Torrelavega and Celtic. The encounter against Manchester United serves as the concluding chapter in their pre-season preparation.

Challenging Tradition

Athletic Bilbao’s unique policy of recruiting exclusively from the Basque region poses a distinct challenge in bolstering their squad. Notable arrivals include Inigo Ruiz de Galarreta from Mallorca and Javier Marton from Real Sociedad B. However, the departure of Inigo Martinez to Barcelona on a free transfer marked a significant change. The presence of key players like Inaki Williams and Nico Williams, who remain with the club, underscores Athletic’s commitment to maintaining stability as they aim to secure a positive result against Manchester United.

Manchester United vs Athletic Bilbao Starting Lineups

For Manchester United, the absence of players like Dean Henderson, Tyrell Malacia, Amad Diallo, and Kobbie Mainoo due to injuries will impact their lineup. The anticipation is that Erik ten Hag will field a robust starting XI against Lens, reserving a second-string ensemble for the initial whistle against Athletic Bilbao. While there might be new faces on the field, familiar figures like Diogo Dalot, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Scott McTominay, and Christian Eriksen are expected to maintain their presence.

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On the other hand, Athletic Bilbao’s lineup is likely to include their new acquisitions. Ruiz de Galarreta is poised to take a spot in central midfield, while Marton could make an appearance as a substitute. Head coach Ernesto Valverde’s selection will reflect their forthcoming match against Real Madrid. Players such as Inaki Williams, Oihan Sancet, Nico Williams, and Mikel Vesga are anticipated to feature prominently. Gorka Guruzeta and Asier Villalibre present viable options in the attacking front.

Manchester United vs Athletic Bilbao Prediction

Analyzing the potential outcome, we anticipate an intense showdown between Manchester United and Athletic Bilbao. While Manchester United may not field their strongest lineup, their remarkable squad depth ensures a competitive encounter. Athletic Bilbao, known for their attacking prowess, might face challenges defensively. Hence, our prediction leans towards an exhilarating 2-2 draw, characterized by a display of skill, determination, and fervent sportsmanship.

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