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La Liga Preview: Athletic Bilbao - Atletico Madrid


Atletico Madrid's ability to force La Liga's title pace will be tested on Saturday when the club faces Athletic Bilbao.

In what has become one of the most entertaining Spanish title races for some time, Diego Simeone's men now have their destiny in their own hands.

Thanks to the form of traditional heavyweights Barcelona and Real Madrid, Atletico has done much of its good work this season as part of the chasing pack.

However, after a week in which the club has moved a point clear at the top of the table, its title credentials will face a stiff test against fourth-placed Bilbao on Saturday.

Such is the nature of this season's title race that a defeat for Atletico could see the club slip to third by the end of the day, while victory can put the team four points clear at the top.

While Atletico has won its last four league outings without conceding a goal, Saturday's host has also been in impressive form as it look to have all but nailed down the final Champions League spot.

Barring a major collapse late in the season, Ernesto Valverde's side could play in the qualification rounds for next season's Champions League, an achievement that has been helped by a run of just one defeat in its last 12 league games.

Aside from defeats to Real Sociedad and Espanyol, Bilbao has proven tough to beat in 2014 and striker Diego Costa will likely have a big say in whether Simeone and company returns to the capital with three points.

Costa has five goals from his last four games in all competitions and was on hand to score the winner the last time the teams met - finding the net with four minutes to go in a 2-1 Atletico victory.

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