Fresh from booking their spot in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey, Athletic Bilbao will resume their La Liga campaign away to Celta Vigo on Sunday night.
The away side are currently eighth in the table, boasting 26 points from their opening 18 matches, while Celta sit 17th, level on points with 18th-placed Real Valladolid heading into the next set of fixtures.
Celta have operated in Spain’s top flight since 2012, finishing eighth and 11th in their last two seasons, but they were 17th in back-to-back campaigns in 2018-19 and 2019-20.
The Sky Blues have found it difficult during the current season, only picking up 17 points from 18 matches, which has left them in 17th position, one point ahead of the relegation zone.
Celta have only lost one of their last five in the league, though, which came away to Mallorca last Friday, and they are just three points behind 12th-placed Valencia.
Carlos Carvalhal’s side are entering a tough run of matches which will see them take on Athletic, Real Betis, Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad in their next four, before a potentially huge encounter at home to fellow strugglers Real Valladolid at the end of February.
Celta have picked up 10 points from their nine home league games this season, and they recorded a 2-0 victory over Athletic when the two sides last locked horns at San Mames last April.
Athletic, as mentioned, will enter this match off the back of a Copa del Rey success, having beaten Valencia 3-1 in the quarter-finals of the competition on Thursday night.
Iker Muniain, Nico Williams and Mikel Vesga were on the scoresheet for the Basque outfit, as they advanced to the final four of the tournament alongside Barcelona, Real Madrid and Osasuna.
Athletic will now be bidding to return to winning ways in La Liga for the first time since early November, having picked up just two points from their last four in the league, including successive losses to Real Sociedad and Real Madrid, which has dented their top-four challenge.
Ernesto Valverde’s side are currently eighth in the table, five points behind fourth-placed Atletico Madrid, while they are only one point ahead of Mallorca in 10th.
Athletic lost at home to Celta last season, but they did win 1-0 in the reverse match in Vigo, while the Basque outfit have not lost away to the Sky Blues in the league since October 2019.