Athletic Club has achieved its first point in the Liga competition after drawing at nil…
Athletic Club has achieved its first point in the Liga competition after drawing at nil against Málaga CF in a match that has given way to an idle first half and a somewhat livelier restart, but in that part aim has not been our team’s main virtue. We have to point out the average age of the eleven starters in La Rosaleda, around 24 years of age, and the debuts in official competition with the first team of Mikel Balenziaga, in the left wing, and Ander Iturraspe, in the midfield.
The warm afternoon and the pitiful state of the playing field, in spite of having been previously watered, didn’t foretell anything good if we look back at previous similar experiences. Unfortunately, the development of first half confirmed the worse omens, at least when it came to game, although the scoreboard showed the initial balance.
Neither Málaga nor Athletic Club have known how to hit the right key so that the ball was not in anyone’s possession most of the time and the occasions, none really clear, came from isolated plays, thanks to the other’s imprecision more than of own success and almost always thanks to remote shots on goal. With no real plays down the wings, both teams entrusted almost everything on second plays without any success.
To rule out everything, Málaga made Iraizoz work in the minute 17 as a result of shot by Duda caught by the goalkeeper, in the 20th a cross shot by Calleja didn’t find a striker and shortly before the half hour Baha created the best opportunity with another remote shot that Iraizoz deflected, just like Arnau did in the minute 30 with a volley on the half turn by Yeste after Llorente brushed the ball. The relation of ‘Ohs!’ was closed by Luque in the minute 42 with a left-footed shot after penetrating the area.
The sensation at the break was obvious: there existed an ample margin for improvement and it was confirmed on re-start of play with no need at least to introduce any name changes. From the first moment Athletic Club took control of the ball, but it hasn’t known how to finish off the task in about twenty-five minutes.
For starters, Yeste had his second opportunity, also from a volley, in the minute 47, but his shot was parried by a defender. In the 55th, Javi Martinez was unable to benefit from a rehearsed play between Yeste and Susaeta, and sent a good pass by the latter right into the stands. A minute later Susaeta gave Arnau a scare, but the goalkeeper caught the ball when it appeared to sneak below his arms. The relation of opportunities was closed by Iraola in the minute 60 when he started his individual slalom from midfield and after a wall he was standing in the area, he got past a defender, but his shot was too soft and ended up right into Arnau’s hands.
Málaga reacted little by little from the bench. First, Eli substituted Nacho changing Calleja to the left wing and that flank profited in penetration capability. Despite it all, during today’s match Athletic Club recovered the defensive order that was so missed against Almeria and that’s why Malaga’s opportunities could only get to set-pieces, as Duda tried in the minute 65, however his shot went directly out though the referee indicated corner. Caparrós also made his move by replacing the already exhausted Iturraspe. The entrance of Ion Vélez accommodated Yeste in the double pivot position.
Tapia also looked for oxygen and speed by bringing in Adrián for the also drained Luque, although with no more uneasiness than a series of corner serves and lateral fouls, but no added frights.
Athletic then exhausted its last cartridges, with a shot by Yeste that was caught by the rival goalie and, except for a counterattack that Eli sent out from the edge of the area, already in injury time, the second Liga match couldn’t give more.
A first point and good defensive sensations, hopeful debuts and the ascertainment that the team, though slightly listed to the right, has done a lot more damage with the ball in its possession despite the fact that the pavement was not for many displays.
Now, with no rest in between, a busy week awaits us with two matches in San Mamés (Valladolid and Getafe), and one away in the middle, that should serve to help us forget at home the sad Liga beginning.