Soccer Picks Athletic Bilbao vs. Granada

Steven Suarez

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 4:43 PM GMT

Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 4:43 PM GMT

Friday's sole La Liga encounter pits Athletic Bilbao up against Granada, with oddsmakers favoring Bilbao heavily. What kind of final score should we expect?

Odds Overview

The Lions are listed as -225 favorites at most of the sportsbooks we've checked. We're actually surprised the number isn't even higher, considering Bilbao has been terrific this season, especially at home, while Granada has disappointed again this term.

Athletic Bilbao

The Lions aren't going to catch the top three in La Liga, we know that, but they're in a great position to lock up the fourth spot, which would see them play in the Champions League next season.

They earned all three points in their latest appearance, beating Real Betis 2-0 away from home, one week after a poor 2-1 loss at home to Espanyol.

Bilbao was the latest team to pour on the misery to what's been an awful season for Betis. Iker Muniain converted from the penalty spot in the first half and then Guillermo put the match out of reach with an insurance goal in the 81st minute.

The focus and discipline has to be there again on Friday, as the Lions are trailed closely by Villarreal and Real Sociedad in the standings. A slip-up here at home could prove costly in the long run,

We wouldn't bank on a letdown for Bilbao though, not with the way they've been playing in front of their own supporters. They've only lost one time in 13 matches, while sporting an excellent goal differential of +15.

Granada

There's been a slight improvement for Granada this term after finishing in 15th in the 2012/13 campaign.

Right now they're taking up the 13th spot, having picked up eight wins, three draws and 14 losses through 25 La Liga fixtures. Overall they've scored just 22 goals, with their solid defensive performances (32 allowed) acting as a saving grace.

Granada is coming off a heartbreaking 2-1 loss at Valencia this past weekend. The visitors were actually ahead through a goal from Piti, but the hosts equalized in the 64th minute and then scored the winner in stoppage time.

It was yet another blow to what's been a largely unforgettable league campaign for Granada. They've only put together two straight wins one time this season and their attacking inefficiencies have proved costly.

The only player who's scored consistently has been Youssef El Arabi, who has eight La Liga goals to his name in the campaign so far. Piti (five goals) has come through at times as well, but no other member of Granada has scored more than two goals.

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La Liga Pick

It would be surprising if Bilbao didn't win this match rather comfortably.

They've been fantastic at home throughout the year and know the importance of getting all three points out of these easier fixtures. It's a tight race for the fourth spot in La Liga and the Lions should come out on a mission to control the match from start to finish.

Granada just hasn't inspired any confidence this term. Their lack of goalscoring prowess has hurt them significantly and we don't see their defense holding firm for the entire 90 minutes. Back a win for Bilbao by at least two goals for Friday's battle.

Pick: Athletic Bilbao 2 Granada 0

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