Almost, but without pointsAthletic Club has lost 1-2 against Sevilla. Gabilondo scored the goal that…
Almost, but without points
Athletic Club has lost 1-2 against Sevilla. Gabilondo scored the goal that gave the lead to the rojiblancos and Kanouté would score the latter two for Sevilla. And now that the Liga has passed, the most important match of the last few years awaits us and that was reflected on the slates and even in the stands, mostly on our part.
The fans also understood the characteristics of the bet, without a doubt risky, since it did not ensure anything, and they lived the same sensations as the team on the field, adapting as the match went on. What is not fair is to claim that the Copa is priority and greet the alignment with surprise now. The same thing happened in Almeria, with the same referee, during the pre-match of the quarterfinals in Gijon, though today scoring was much closer. Let’s hope the subsequent result is the same and Athletic makes it to a final almost a quarter of a century later. It’s evident that Athletic hasn’t shown the same quality as the rival, especially that of Kanouté, but the team’s determination, its devotion and solidarity allowed them to reach the end with options to score.
Joaquin Caparrós bet on lining-up non-regular players: Armando, Ustaritz, Etxeita, Balenziaga, Gurpegi, Muñoz and Toquero, and with them first-choices such as Amorebieta, Gabilondo, Susaeta and Ion Vélez. Sevilla, on the other hand, has only left out Navas, Renato and Adriano, though the second took part in nearly three-quarters of an hour.
From the beginning, both teams represented their projected roles. The visitors came in with the intention of controlling the game and the rojiblancos of finding themselves. In this context, the referee also represented his assigned role, to try to keep the game running, but he failed in the basics: the calls. It’s alright as an objective, and that’s how he was praised in Almeria despite having been defeated, but one thing is for the game to still be alive and another is to make incorrect calls or let the few set plays in which Athletic hung the ball in the rival area be a martial arts class as illustrated in the above image.
With no other prominent occasions than a cross by Capel that Perotti -a great player- was unable to get on the end of, and that barely missed wide, the passing of minutes brought about a more balanced encounter as Athletic found itself. Susaeta shot flat but wide and Romaric did the same from a free kick touched by three before Athletic and its fans perked up. It was in the minute 26 when a corner that Etxeita combed and the save was intercepted by Gurpegi ended up in Gabilondo’s left foot, which turned out more potent than Palop’s hand. Some minutes of excitement with a free-kick by Susaeta and save by Palop.
Athletic and Sevilla did not coincide in the game concept, but did so when it came to exchanging the position of their wingers; with a referee that had unequal standards when it came to showing cards. Sevilla feinted in areas of little risk, but without really causing damage, until a poor clearing by Balenziaga in the minute 39 allowed Mosquera to put the ball into the area and Kanouté to begin his exhibition. Control, shot and draw at one, a goal that came just before the interval and that left almost all of San Mamés stone cold.
Without changes at the re-start, the second half has unfortunately been a continuance and by the minute 47, Kanouté had already missed a clamorous attempt; in the 53, shortly after Jiménez had introduced Renato to replace Fazio, Kanouté connected a ball after side-stepping his marker, but Armando brilliantly responded.
Iturraspe replaced Muñoz in the 55, but with no time to assimilate the nature of the change, Kanouté took control of a ball on the edge of the area with four defences behind the ball, but despite the bad initial control, he was able to drive it in for the one-two.
Amid the substitutions the clash was extinguishing, between the work of some and the incapacity of others. Caparrós gave Iñigo Vélez some minutes and replaced Ion Vélez; Acosta and Konko gave a rest to Kanouté and Capel respectively, while a returning Garmendia replaced Gabilondo. The visiting squad had the match where they wanted and added all the possible tools for the game to take place with even more anxiety for Athletic than for them. However, our team brought out all it had and even grazed a feat: Garmendia headed a pass to Toquero in the minute 88 and the forward stood up to Palop, but his strong shot was saved by the goalie with his foot. In the last play, Etxeita brushed the goal with a header, but the ball barely missed wide; the end, resignation and recognition from the stands for the effort. Athletic Club has lost today’s battle, but not the war and on Wednesday, at least as logic dictates, everything will be different, we hope for the better, though nobody said that the company would be easy, far from it.