Athletic Club lost 0-2 against Atlético Madrid with goals scored by Agüero and Forlán. The…
Athletic Club lost 0-2 against Atlético Madrid with goals scored by Agüero and Forlán. The Rojiblancos began the match much colder than their rivals, though they did show improvement as the minutes passed.
The fact that Atlético soon got ahead on the marker had a decisive influence. Despite it all, it’s possible to say that if Sunday we spoke of poor game and good result in our favour, today we can say the opposite; a better game in the second half, but with little effectiveness, few blows at the opponents’ end, despite the two balls that hit the post and the fact that the referee invalidated two Rojiblanco goals, one of the few correct decisions he made during the match.
With the whole match on the scale, a draw would have been fairer, but the blow by Atlético Madrid has been unavoidably mortal, even though they possess a squad that can demonstrate a lot more. On the contrary, as it’s the points which determine the course, it’s possible to say that they have fulfilled their objective and to do so they’ve striven, since the first minute, in taking the initiative and, as has occurred in several previous Liga matches, Atlético was soon up on the scoreboard.
After Agüero threatened in the minute 6, in the twelfth he picked up a long ball by Seitaridis, he overtook Ustaritz, avoided another defender and misled Iraizoz to establish the 0-1. It was all uphill, but in a few seconds things changed when Etxeberria picked up a centre from the left, with such bad luck that the ball hit the post. There is the difference. Susaeta tried it from a free-kick, but sent it over the crossbar.
In the initial format, Etxeberria returned to the team and played the right wing, David Lopez the left, while Susaeta was behind Aduriz with plenty of freedom to move. The offensive weight, like so many times, was inclined toward the right, perhaps because Del Horno took up the attack much less. The ‘colchoneros’ recovered from the cheers subsequent to the goal and brought on the speed and quality to create another couple of options, the first from Reyes, high in the minute 22, and the second when Iraizoz made a great save from a shot by Agüero in the minute 28.
Meanwhile, the referee was demanding a part of the attention and the match clearly slipped out of his hands. Thus, for example in the 32nd, he booked Agüero with a yellow, and to completely break down laughing was the sequence initiated in the minute 34 when Aduriz suffered an elbow blow by Perea on a jump, in which the player, besides losing several minutes of play, received three stitches.
The forward was expelled during the last match against Real Madrid in Santiago Bernabéu for something similar. To make matters worse, in the minute 41, he was booked with a yellow for supposedly feigning with his gestures on several plays, at least that’s how the referee saw it. From then on, Muñiz has been distributing errors in an attempt to make both teams happy. At least he hasn’t achieved this with our team. And, between the shouts to the referees and assistants and many game interruptions, the first half was consumed. Athletic wanted to, but couldn’t.
In the second half an injured Perea was replaced by Zé Castro and in our team, in the 48th minute, Vélez replaced Javi Martinez. Athletic’s superiority had its reflection since the first minute since Atlético didn’t have the ball and had great difficulty crossing the midfield. The Rojiblancos maintained the 4-4-2, but with two clearer forwards and Susaeta in left wing, with David Lopez changing to the double pivot.
He himself enjoyed an occasion in the minute 50, but his shot went high. Ocio was denied a goal in the minute 54 as he was offside on the free-kick, although the fast ball recovery by Athletic brought the hope that a draw would materialize. Meanwhile, Aguirre’s men, all to themselves, searched for a saving counterattack and clean defensive work.
Maxi came in for Simao in the minute 60, in search of a more offensive freshness, but Athletic was the one to find it. In the minute 65, Vélez enjoyed his first option, but Leo Franco deflected with great difficulty. At that time, Luis Garcia stepped in for Reyes, and the recently incorporated made the first dangerous shot of the whole second half for Atlético in the minute 71, which Iraizoz turned away for a corner.
Caparrós assumed yet more risks in the minute 73 when he brought on Cuéllar to substitute David Lopez. It was Susaeta’s turn in the double pivot. In the heat of the host’s persistence, the quality and stroke gave us a great blow in the middle of all good intentions.
Forlán, who was going more or less unnoticed at the Catedral, finished off a ball that had just been intercepted by our team in the back, just as it came to him, from outside the area and down the middle; an authentic goal that made things yet more difficult.
In spite of the grief, our players didn’t give up and have striven on the offense. There was nothing else. For starters, Vélez finished off from a forced position and Leo Franco saved it from under the woods. In the minute 81, a back cross from Cuéllar got past Aduriz and the later shot on goal by Etxeberria was turned away by the goalie.
In the minute 84, Ocio shot a header, as did Ustaritz who had recently replaced Llorente. Vélez hit the crossbar in the 87th from the edge of the area; Llorente’s header goal was invalidated due to a foul on the jump in the 89th and, in the 94th, Ocio, who was already acting as the desperate forward, shot on goal but high.
Today it was our turn to see the tails side of the goal coin, without avoiding the fact that there’s still a lot to improve and assemble. On the other hand, the fan’s behaviour has once again been exemplary.
To the constant cheering and understanding the attitude and character of the team we must add the excellent image offered of a San Mamés free of hurling objects. We should expand that line of performance. With regards to the sporting aspect, it’s time to visit yesterday’s Liga leader, Villarreal. The challenge is not an easy one.