Athletic Club is just four points from relegation with just four matchdays left to go…
Athletic Club is just four points from relegation with just four matchdays left to go in the Liga, one more away with respect to the previous match day, after the one all draw against Deportivo de A Coruña, however, the reading after the match was that it stayed halfway since a victory was essential to almost definitively move away from the drop. The rojiblancos did the most difficult, shake up Deportivo, but the early equalizer changed all hopes of reaching the end of the Liga with less suffering than anticipated.
Athletic Club was nervous at the beginning and it was Deportivo that gave the sensation of going after the match. In fact, the first opportunity was for Juan Rodriguez in the minute 17 when he combed a centre from left that barely missed wide. Athletic showed a 4-4-2 with Urzaiz and Etxeberria as forwards, Iraola and Gabilondo on the wings and Martinez and Murillo in the box-to-box position. Defending were, Expósito on the right wing and Javi González the left, with Prieto and Sarriegi in the midfield, however this formation scheme couldn’t deal with the opponent’s 4-2-3-1, who were well defended in the back. As the minutes advanced, meter by meter, our team began taking the reins of the match and in the 36th minute, Aouate makes the afternoon’s save by blocking a volley from Gabilondo.
In the minute 37 it was Iraola who headed but off target, although every attack has its risk, in the minute 38 and in a fast counterattack Arizmendi headed comfortably, but it hit the post leaving things as they were until the break.
In second half, Estoyanoff stayed in the changing room and his position was occupied by Bodipo, moving Arizmendi to the right on the line of three. In our team, Martinez moved up a bit, changing Etxeberria to the right wing and centring Iraola. The initiative was already Athletic’s and the compensation came in the minute 56 when Murillo headed home an Iraola corner.
The most difficult work appeared to be done before a team that fits few goals, but that suddenly found itself, in the minute 62, with the equalizer. It was a free-kick that the referee had repeated and which Aranzubia was unable to deflect. The goal placed the match uphill, more so for a team such as ours who this season is having a lot of difficulty scoring.
Immediately afterwards, Mane made the anticipated change of bringing on Yeste for Etxeberria, placing newly-introduced player on the midfield and Martinez on the right. Pablo Alvarez came on for De Guzmán and Llorente for Gabilondo in the minute 75, reorganizing Athletic Club’s attack: Iraola returned to the right and Javi Martinez changed to the left. Two minutes later, the referee sent off Capdevila with a second bookable yellow, and Filipe replaced Riki without delay. The encounter was already a one-way and Urzaiz had the game in his head, but in the 80th minute his shot crashed in the post and rebounded into awaiting Aouate who saved from the line before the ball could sneak in.
Our players have tried more so with their hearts than with their heads, but ironically an action by Bodipo after dispossessing Sarriegi of the ball in the final stretch was the clearest option, however Aranzubia responded well to the lob.
The next effort will come in Zaragoza, a complicated match in which we’ll have to try to make some points for tranquillity; also, an appointment which sanctioned players Murillo and Sarriegi will miss; the first due to accumulation bookable offences and the second for the red card.