Athletic’s miserable campaign continued as they started 2013 as they finished 2012 - with a defeat, going down 3-1 to Levante last weekend.
Young Aymeric Laporte is suspended after being sent-off in that game so Fernando Amorebieta will return at centre-back. Jon Aurtenetxe is still struggling with an ankle injury so Oscar de Marcos is expected to deputise once more at left-back.
The one bright spark for Marcelo Bielsa in recent weeks though has been Aritz Aduriz and he continued his great form with his third goal in four games to remain the top scoring Spaniard in the league.
In contrast, Rayo come into the game in fantastic form as they picked up their third straight victory with a 3-1 mauling of Getafe on Monday night, a scoreline that barely reflected Paco Jemez’s side’s dominance.
Piti added two more goals to his tally for the season in that game, meaning he has now scored as many times as Michu had at this point of the campaign last year, and Rayo have been given a further boost with the news that he will be free to play after his yellow card in the Getafe game, which would have resulted in a suspension, was rescinded.
However, Nacho has also been ruled out after having to be stretchered off last time out with a knee injury that is expected to keep him out for up to two months.
Rayo have claimed some notable scalps on their travels with victories at Valencia, Betis and Malaga this season and they will be confident of gaining another against an Athletic side that have struggled to make San Mames a fortress in their final season at the 100-year-old stadium.
However, Jemez's men are often quite cavalier in their approach and that should open up gaps for the host to exploit in what should be an open and entertaining game.
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