The match between Athletic Club and Real Betis ended up in a goalless draw. Our…
The match between Athletic Club and Real Betis ended up in a goalless draw. Our team deserved the three points, but did not how to turn their opportunities into goals, and therefore, their superiority was only a state of mind, even the rival coach thought that Athletic were more deserving.
Besides the lack of sharpness, another negative aspect of the game was the fact that the fans who go to San Mamés have only been witness to fours draws and a loss out of the five matches played at home in the first quarter or half way through the first leg of the competition, whatever. This statistic should not hold back a team which is on the rise.
Saturday’s duel, on the other hand, is cause for optimism. It was the third consecutive match without a loss, the team having only lost a third of the total number of matches played. The team took the initiative during the entire match just like on previous occasions and their work in the defence department was good, they did not give their rivals a chance to score a goal. Something which, in any case and not only when the team is winning, is always a hot topic. Did the other team not create any goal scoring opportunities for themselves or was it the Red-Whites who forced them to go home practically empty-handed? That is the question!
Despite this, it is true to say that Betis did not look menacing. The runs made by Betis into the local goal area can be summed up in a single paragraph. A foul taken by Xisco was caught by Iraizoz in the 9th minute, a shot from the centre by Babic in the 15th minute and, not to mention the high volley by Sobis in the 36th minute and a series of rebounds in the Athletic goal area during the extra time period of the first half. During the second half the Green/Whites made three changes and were given three yellow cards, and there is nothing more to add.
Athletic had a slow start to the first and second halves, but as the clock ticked away their performance improved. In the first half an individual effort by Etxeberria ended up being a corner in the 12th minute, which was the catalyst for the team to advance down the field gradually, to apply the pressure in a coordinated and compensated fashion which not only allowed the team to get the ball back relatively quickly but meant that almost all of our opponent’s efforts to score were blocked by Iraizoz without too much trouble. The reason for this being that our rivals were in a rush at times which led to them not being precise when firing away.
In the 19th minute Gabilolndo took a shot at goal as a result of a foul which was repelled by Ricardo, and in the 33rd minute a long pass by Ocio was intercepted by Aduriz whose header hit the crossbar with the help of Ricardo who had just touched the ball and thus avoiding a goal being scored. Towards the half time break Susaeta finished off a good group effort by taking a line shot at goal which went straight to the hands of the goalkeeper and in the 44th minute Aduriz took a shot at goal, also a line shot, which missed.
After the break Athletic stuck to the tradition of recent years of attacking down the right wing, however, our first opportunity of the half came down the left in the 61st minute. Koikili invaded rival territory kicked diagonally but his pass to the centre of the goal area could not be finished off Aduriz who only needed to guide the ball into the back of the net and whose header missed its mark in the 65th minute.
The Red-Whites were in charge with the pace set high and were highly efficient when putting on the pressure. Cuper made his first substitution by sending in Edu to replace Xisco in the forward position looking for more punch, forcing Sobis to cover the right wing. All in vain as a local goal scoring opportunity was about to take place, in the 68th minute a foul shot was taken by Gabilondo, however, it rebounded and it took a combined effort by Etxeberria and Orbaiz to finish it off unfortunately the Green-White goalie was able to deflect the ball. A shot taken afterwards by Martínez was sent to corner by a defender. Gabilondo finished off the corner kick with a volley kicked with the right which went astray.
A new attempt to even the match by Cuper was made by sending Somoza onto the field to replace Capi. Minutes before Caparrós had sent David López onto the field to step in for Susaeta without altering the 4-4-2 format, which was still unaltered with the substitution of Etxeberria by Llorente in the 77th minute. What’s more, Llorente revolutionized the offensive game of the Red-Whites for a few minutes and in the 79th minute the forward from Irun was back in the goal area and took a shot at goal which was deflected by Ricardo to corner. In a similar move a penalty was called for in the 81st minute as the player had been tackled before he could take a shot at goal.
As a result of Rivera stepping in for Sobis in minute 81 of the game Betis felt like playing with the ball for a while, and three minutes later Vélez replaced Aduriz when Athletic starting to show signs of tiredness which can occur to any team bearing up with the weight of the match without scoring. Athletic did however undergo a new anti-doping test and received a series of cards, some of which were not deserved the same goes for our opponents who did not deserve all the cards given to them by the referee during the encounter. Reasonable doubt exists over a possible penalty committed by Ricardo against Aduriz when the goalkeeper blocked a ball while kicking the forward.
We were waiting for the day when our team would provide us with a complete match, a match that was not two-faced or full of ups and downs. The day has come and even though there were no goals scored, the match could be described as being almost complete. The most important thing for the team is to grow as a group and confide in their own abilities, however in light of Wednesday’s match in Getafe we prefer to be less deserving and bring home more points.