Athletic Club was defeated by Real Madrid (1-4) in a match in which effectiveness when…
Athletic Club was defeated by Real Madrid (1-4) in a match in which effectiveness when facing the goal was crucial. The Rojiblancos were compelling in strength and courage. The visitors, however, showed the necessary quality to perfectly take advantage of mistakes. Ramos, Van Nistelrooy (2) and Guti scored for Real Madrid. Llorente scored the only goal for our team.
As a summary to the classification we’d like to point out that other teams’ results haven’t been better, since none of those teams in near relegation spots got any points.
The best, once again, have been our fans, which are clearly some of the best in the world, knowledgeable and conscious of its team’s effort, they’ve known how to continuously inspire and encourage the team over all the difficulties, even after falling defeated by a wide margin, Athletic left the field wrapped in applauses.
Athletic came onto the pitch well positioned, with a pressing 4-1-4-1 and the surprise of Javi González on the left wing. They immediately pushed Real Madrid back and the ball recoveries in the midfield brought about some interesting counter-attacks. In one of them, minute 8, the referee left the one on one between Aduriz and Casillas at nothing after sanctioning a non-existent offside. The tendency was clipped too soon when Beckham shot a free-kick and after several threats the red-white defence was positioned almost in its own area and Ramos made no mistake to finish off the shot from close.
After the heavy blow, Athletic continued doing their thing, putting on the pressure, stealing the ball and breaking away, even at the expense of turning this into a two-legged match, with the danger this entails considering a rival such as Real Madrid. On the attack, Etxeberria hit the crossbar with his left before Casillas in the minute 22, although the clearest opportunity was for Iraola, who after receiving a great pass from Aduriz stood before the rival goal but hurried the ball and shot high.
In the minute 30, Beckham innocently combed facing Aranzubia, but in the 34th minute the throw in and a manual application of yours-mine allowed Cicinho to go in through the right, to see and warm up to the far post where Van Nistelrooy only had to push in the header. It was a tremendous blow that Athletic had to ride out with stoicism until the break, with a high volley by Javi Martinez as an only offensive opportunity.
In the second half, the blow had an early prolongation. In the minute 50, Van Nistelrooy again hunted a frank volley down the centre that Aranzubia didn’t see and 0-3, this time on a second play after serving a still ball. A bit of fortune was all Real Madrid needed. By that time, Yeste and Urzaiz were waiting their turn on the sideline to replace Etxeberria and Gabilondo, with the squad changing to a 4-2-3-1 with Aduriz behind Urzaiz and Yeste on the left, bringing back Javi Martinez to his position as double pivot. Athletic pressed and pressed, but its opportunity didn’t arrive until minute 58 with a high shot by Murillo.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid tidily rode out the storm and even on the hour Higuain replaced Van Nistelrooy and shortly after Iraola once again crossed paths with Casillas who was able to save the shot point-blank. Fortune didn’t smile on Athletic even in the cards, since while Urzaiz was booked for complaining, it was incredible that players like Emerson and Sergio Ramos finished without being booked in San Mamés or that Cannavaro didn’t see a second yellow and Beckham was booked for wasting time with 0-3 on the marker and 15 minutes left on the clock.
When there were still some twenty minutes to play, Llorente came in for Iraola, while Aduriz changed to the right wing. Shortly after, Aduriz made Casillas intervene and in the following play Higuain stood alone before Aranzubia but finished on the post. Cannavaro was not sent off for using his elbows, nor was he for simulating a foul and holding the ball with his hands, Diarra’s header finished off high and Guti came in for Robinho in the 76th minute.
With just 10 minutes to go in the match, Yeste was more accurate with his free-kick and Llorente scored the header for the 1-3, a result that for three minutes and watching the rojiblanco surge served to feed a certain excitement quickly broken by Guti in the minute 83, after another easy counter-attack. On a day when things were just not going our way, another two finishes, one by Javi Martinez and another by Aduriz, ran right into Casillas.
In the end, 8 shots on goal out of 16 attempts for Athletic, one goal, as opposed to 7 shots on goal out of 10 attempts with four goals for Real Madrid. Athletic recovered the ball 78 times and its rival 66. Our team put the ball in the area 46 times and Real Madrid only 11. With those statistics, the 1-4 feels rather bulky and serves to emphasize the difference in quality and resolution between both teams; that which separates a team that’s fighting for the title and one that’s trying to avoid relegation. The task is still in our hands and it is urgent to clarify, the sooner the better, the panorama. To achieve it, to yesterday’s attitude we should add a great dose of aptitude in the way of concentration. It will have to be in Huelva.