Our prediction for this Europa League match:
Following a 2-0 loss to Genk at Luminus Arena, Athletic Bilbao have no other choice but to go all guns blazing at the Belgian outfit when the two teams take on each other at San Mames Barria on Thursday. The Lions face a must-win situation against Genk and we predict that coach Ernesto Valverde is going to field the best possible side this time out. It is well known that Athletic Bilbao have turned their San Mames into a real fortress and considering that Genk’s away record in European competitions is anything but good, home win appears on the horizon. The Belgian team were beaten by Rapid Wien in their previous away game in the process and it has to be noted that Peter Maes’ men suffered a shocking 2-0 loss to Buducnost in Podgorica in the Europa League qualifiers. The two teams meet for the first time ever at San Mames Barria.
Highlighted Player (Aritz Aduriz):
Aritz Aduriz is another Spanish footballer that can be placed in the late bloomers category, having played his best football after the age of 30. The cultured striker has spent his entire career in native Spain, and he was showing promise from the moment he first tasted senior football. The Basque forward arrived at Athletic Bilbao via Aurrera and Bilbao Athletic, but the first spell at San Mames proved quite disappointing and he went on to kick-start his career at Real Valladolid. Aduriz later returned to Athletic Bilbao to score 22 goals in 82 league outings, and then represented Mallorca and Valencia before returning for the third spell. Little did he know that it would prove to be the most successful stint of his career, with the forward producing some amazing displays in La Liga and Europa League, scoring over 95 goals in first four years upon rejoining los Leones. That proved enough for the striker to end a six-year exile from the national team as Aduriz featured in March 2016 friendlies vs Italy and Romania, scoring on his return against the Azzurri to prove age should not matter when the quality is there.
Highlighted Team (RC Genk):
Founded in 1988, Genk are considered one of the youngest clubs in Belgium. Luminus Arena is the home stadium of the club, the capacity of the venue is 24 956 and it was built in 1999. Speaking of UEFA matches, the stadium can hold 21 500 spectators. Genk clinched one Belgian Pro League trophy in the 20th century, with the team winning the 1989/1999 title. They finished the season with 73 points, two points clear of second-placed Club Brugge. Genk won their second domestic trophy in 2002 and the team lifted the Belgian Pro League title in 2011 as well. Speaking of the Belgian Cup, the club clinched their fourth trophy in the competition in 2013. The club is well known for their brilliant school and you should bear in mind that the likes of Steven Defour, Christian Benteke, Thibaut Courtois, Divock Origi and Kevin De Bruyne are all products of Genk’s football academy.