Athletic Club lost 0-1 in against Real Madrid in San Mamés. Van Nistelrooy scored the…
Athletic Club lost 0-1 in against Real Madrid in San Mamés. Van Nistelrooy scored the visitors goal in the minute 54. As has happened historically in this type of encounter and against this type of opponent, one could say it was an already seen match, in which at the hands of quality comes effectiveness and with it the difference on the marker. Both teams enjoyed a similar number of goal occasions, but on one Madrid capitalised and we couldn’t. Among all the reasons, the aforesaid puts them in leading spots and our team fighting the danger zone; nothing that wasn’t already known.
What’s more, for the classic to have all its classicism it couldn’t lack, without being decisive, the dark effectiveness by referees or the foolish acts of tossing objects at the Real Madrid goalie; unfortunately, another two classics. And, while on the subject of comparing with previous seasons, the difference between Athletic and its adversary, who’s aspiring for the title and happens to be defending champions, has not been that much. The team was whole till the end, with options to score, though the harvest of points has been the same.
In order to confront one of the only three classics that have repeated since the Liga is such, Athletic Club-Real Madrid, Caparrós presented more changes than those expected on the outside: Ustaritz as right winger, Iraola ahead, Javi Martinez as starting pivot and David Lopez back on the left flank. As the minutes passed, the 4-4-2 derived into a 4-2-3-1 to return to the initial 4-4-2.
Independently of the system used, Athletic was faithful to the script of a classic: hot start and all the spectators, well, most of them, cheering the team. Javi Martinez created the first danger in the minute 5, however, in the 8th the clear option that would make the match uneven arrived. Cannavaro failed in his attempt to clear and the ball dropped at Iraola’s feet, but he was unable to execute the tunnel under Casillas legs; who was starting to (and van…), become more effective and continued feeding his fame as a great goalkeeper.
Real Madrid made Aranzubia work on three occasions in three minutes, from the 9th to the 12th, but the goalie saved the shots by Robinho (twice) and Raul. Still with the local 4-4-2, Real Madrid moved the ball well and was starting to throw the game off-balance, at least when it came to possession. That’s when Caparrós rearranged the team, changing Ustaritz to the pivot, Iraola to the wing and placing to Javi Martinez on the right. The rojiblancos got their breath and the ball back and it more opportunities. A high shot by David Lopez from outside the area was the prelude of another great chance. It was the minute 27 when a cross by Koikili was headed rather well by Llorente, but Casillas dutifully stretched to deflect the ball.
Amid so much equality, the occasions disappeared up to the break, except for Ramos’ annulled goal for off-sides in the minute 36. Real Madrid put more touch and Athletic more verticality, but sometimes surrounded by too much precipitation, detrimental at the time of obtaining the expected effectiveness when facing the goal.
Before retiring to the changing rooms, in the minute 40, Orbaiz replaced Ustaritz, who suffered some dizzy spells during the first half. The scheme changed to a 4-2-3-1 with Yeste further ahead and Etxeberria in right wing.
That’s how things started in the second half, but Athletic needed the explosive beginning and it was Real Madrid who controlled the clash. With no time to balance the scale a lost ball by Ocio in the minute 54 was finished off with a lethal shot by Van Nistelrooy, who appeared not to be in the match. The nil to one brought us back to those not-so-distant times when clashes against Real Madrid or Barcelona were balanced and only a spark of quality by someone that didn’t make much noise would cause us to leave San Mamés empty-handed. It’s not worth much, but it’s a classic among classics.
In the heat of the moment, Orbaiz and Amorebieta were booked with individual yellow cards and in the minute 59 Aduriz replaced Javi Martinez. Yeste returned to the creative area and the team to a 4-4-2. David Lopez shot, high, barely missing wide in the minute 63 when it seemed feasible to hang the ball in the area and in 66, a revived Van Nistelrooy wanted to come all the way in, but after overtaking Aranzubia he saw how Koikili snatched the ball right from his feet.
Three minutes later Gabilondo came in for Etxeberria and David Lopez changed to the right wing. It was the time for a last offensive. In order to abort it, Robinho shot on goal to the post in the minute 70. There was life and hope, though the second was greater than the first seeing the end result.
On their turn, Athletic had a classic play to begin with; a break away by Koikili ended up in a flat shot on goal intercepted by Diarra’s supporting hand. That circumstance was argued by the referee to explain the non-penalty in a classic way, but the arm clearly cut the centre off. It was the most complicated decision he had to make, along with a blow he received in his own area by Cannavaro, but on that occasion he had it more difficult to see what happened.
Generally speaking and without it being decisive, the referee’s performance was the typical one when it comes to this type of contenders. The disparity when it came to booking card was rather clear. those of the Athletic were Deserved in the case of its ‘key’ men due to their positions, that is, Orbaiz and Amorebieta, Yeste’s though was an excess, but in the case of Real Madrid the one shown to Sneijder was avoidable, Robinho saw it ‘easy’, but two of their key men in the task of containment, like Diarra and Sergio Ramos, finished the match without a spot on their report. In the case of Ramos, he stood out for his kicking ability in his disputes with Koikili. In addition, Llorente continues to grow and today’s lesson was about how to receive dozens of fouls from one or another midfielder without cautions. And to finish, though we insist that it wasn’t determining, the extra time was a joke after a second half sprinkled with interruptions proper of a game played with strength, graciousness and lots of intensity.
The blame for the defeat, as we’ve already said, is found in our own lack of effectiveness and that shown by the opponent. Casillas was tremendously effective in his work and also stood out for nurturing his experience with the unfortunate classic stupidity of throwing objects onto the field. San Mamés was running a tidiness streak, but a classic contains everything.
After the possible penalty play, in the minute 72, only sixty seconds later, Llorente decisively penetrated after receiving a deep ball but his cross was just averted to corner by Casillas. One more! His kick was a practised play, but the Real Madrid goalkeeper didn’t miss his place and stopped Iraola’s volley. It was time to measure Athletic’s effectiveness but it didn’t turn out to be fortunate.
With fifteen minutes left, Schuster brought in Gago, and later Guti, with the intention of finishing off the game and he achieved it. With more holes and the scoreboard as a mattress, Baptista almost scored from a free-kick in the 77 and Robben, who substituted Robinho, attempted to score by looping the ball over the goalie almost at the end. The rojiblancos, by now all heart and much less head, insisted until almost the final whistle, but with no real aim.
This classic has authenticated the impression that the team is growing, as was seen before Deportivo and Valencia, but it’s difficult to consolidate stretches without points. At least we are left with the belief that putting the same doses of dedication will surely bring about effectiveness. That’s how our faithful fans have also understood it today.