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Real Madrid vs. Athletic Bilbao: Odds, Live Stream, TV Schedule and Preview

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistDecember 21, 2019

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during a Champions League soccer match Group A between Real Madrid and Paris Saint Germain at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Real Madrid continue to improve in La Liga, and Los Blancos play Athletic Bilbao on Sunday at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Zinedine Zidane's collective more than matched champions Barcelona in Wednesday's goalless El Clasico at the Camp Nou. A title challenge appears to be on track for Madrid.

Real's next opponents have had an good campaign so far, with Athletic Club in seventh after achieving consistent results.

              

Date: Sunday, Dec. 22

Time: 9 p.m. local, 8 p.m. GMT,  3 p.m ET

TV: Premier Sports 2 (UK), BeIN Sports (USA)

StreamPremier PlayerLaLigaTVbeIN Connect

Odds: Madrid: 33-10, Bilbao: 39-5, draw: 43-10 (via Caesars)

                  

Preview

BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 18: (BILD ZEITUNG OUT) head coach Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid looks on during the Liga match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF at Camp Nou on December 18, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

After a year of inconsistency and fluctuating results, the real Los Blancos are emerging from the shadows.

Zidane's position was under threat after a poor end to the previous campaign. Madrid lost 12 games across the season, finishing third and 19 points behind the champions.

The Frenchman only returned to the Bernabeu in March, so the whole campaign was not entirely his responsibility, but Real took time to find their best once Zidane grabbed the reins for a second time.

Los Blancos have lost just once this term, compared to Barca's three. This season they are not allowing the Catalans to run away with the championship.

Madrid are unbeaten in their last eight, but they will be challenged by a Bilbao team experiencing their own upturn in fortunes.

CASTELLON, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 3: (L-R) Xavier Quintilla of Villarreal, Inaki Williams of Athletic Bilbao  during the La Liga Santander  match between Villarreal v Athletic de Bilbao at the Estadio de la Ceramica on November 3, 2019 in Castellon Spain (Photo
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Last season, the Lions missed European qualification by one place on head-to-head results with Espanyol after the sides finished level on points.

Coach Gaizka Garitano's objective now will be to go one better and comfortably secure UEFA Europa League participation—or earn an elusive UEFA Champions League spot in the top-four.

The travelling side will have to contain Karim Benzema, who has been Madrid's main man this season, leading the attack in vintage form.

Benzema has scored 13 goals in 16 appearances against Bilbao during his career, and the 32-year-old has hit the back of the net 12 times in La Liga this term.

Despite their consistent Champions League successes, Madrid have won La Liga only six times since 2000, and as we approach 2020, president Florentino Perez will demand his team climb back to the top of the domestic tree ahead of Barca.