Alaves vs Athletic Bilbao

La Liga. Kick-off: 8pm, Monday 17th December. Live on Eleven Sports 1.

ALAVES usually head into these Basque derbies as clear underdogs but there has been a role reversal this season.

At this time last year, Alaves looked doomed to relegation as they propped up La Liga and couldn't buy a win.

But the arrival of former Barcelona defender Abelardo Fernandez as boss totally transformed their fortunes as he led Alaves to safety with plenty to spare then had them flying high in the new campaign.

While Abelardo was working his magic, their Basque neighbours Athletic Bilbao were beginning a dangerous slide that has seen them fall into the drop zone this season.

Boss Eduardo Berizzo was axed two weeks ago and replacement Gaizka Garitano made an instant impact, claiming just their second La Liga win of the season thanks to a last-gasp Aritz Aduriz penalty against Girona.

Now he faces a tough task following it up with a derby triumph and the bookies are finding it hard to pick a winner.

888 Sport have Alaves at 37/20 for a win while Athletic Bilbao are 8/5 and the draw 41/20, which will attract plenty of backers given Athletic have drawn eight of their 15 La Liga games this term.

The most pleasing aspect for Garitano against Girona would have been the clean sheet, given his backline was ravaged by injuries and suspensions.

Big summer signings Yuri and Inigo Martinez will return after their bans for the clash with Alaves and that should make them even better at the back.

Alaves have come off the boil a little after their stunning start to the season and haven't won in four games in all competitions.

Three of those have been defeats so Abelardo will be desperate for his side to get back on track with a win over their neighbours.

But scoring has been a problem during their poor run, with Alaves netting more than one goal just once in their last six matches.

That lends appeal to under 2.5 goals in this derby, although the odds are pretty poor at 16/25 with 888 Sport. To get better value try tipping either side for a 1-0 win, with Alaves available at 7/1 and Bilbao 13/2.

Another decent option with 888 Sport is to bet against a goal being scored in each half, which is available at 3/4.

Alaves winger Ibai Gomez will have a point to prove against his old club and could be worth backing in the goalscorer markets. He's 13/2 for first scorer and a decent 3/1 for anytime scorer.

Veteran Aduriz leads the betting for a Bilbao scorer at 5/1 to break the deadlock and 11/5 to net at any time. But I like the look of Benat Etxebarria at 16/1 and 8/1 respectively as he's a threat from long range with his shooting.

Recommended bets

  • Goal not being scored in each half 3/4 (888 Sport)
  • Ibai Gomez anytime scorer 3/1 (888 Sport)
  • Benat Etxebarria anytime scorer 8/1 (888 Sport)
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