Athletic Club lost 2-0 against Valencia. Villa scored both local goals in a Mestalla tinted…
Athletic Club lost 2-0 against Valencia. Villa scored both local goals in a Mestalla tinted with very different colours than those of recent days; however, the team has never been alone. On the field, it was similar to last week, that is, defining, or the lack of it, has been their main problem, though not the only one.
Llorente couldn’t finish off just when play began and Villa did so in the minute 6, and with that goal Emery’s men felt way more comfortable with attempts by Villa and Pablo Hernandez; though Llorente had another opportunity on the quarter hour of play, this time his shot on goal was off target; a question of streaks.
Later, it’s been Valencia who carried the weight of the match in a period with lack of precision on both sides. The hosts found the ways that lead to Iraizoz with extreme ease, although as the minutes passed the rojiblancos were able to somewhat fight down and balance the clash. Javi Martinez, who started in the midfield, changed positions with Gurpegi, who started out in the double pivot; a similar change, this time in the wings, was carried out between Susaeta and David Lopez.
First half languished just as it had started, a marred attempt by Javi Martinez with a header, and response by Valencia, this time from the boots of Pablo Hernandez first and Edu later. Meanwhile, Ion Vélez and Iñaki Muñoz, who replaced Orbaiz and Yeste on re-start of play, were already warming up on the sideline.
The second half has been still more open, therefore more entertaining for spectators, with clearer options on both sides and greater refereeing prominence. Athletic wanted to play further up, but being behind on the last day of the Liga with little at stake and against Valencia, it was a dangerous situation that translated into an interchange of blows with a rival who in that aspect is more accurate. Almost as if following a chronological script the attempts alternated goals: a shot by Edu and attempt by Moretti, both ruined by Iraizoz, were followed by a one-on-one between Ion Vélez and Cesar, which this one deflected to corner; Llorente continued his divorce with good fortune and first saw how a control with his chest and later shot on goal were saved from under the woods by a defence and later another shot on goal was slightly off target.
In Valencia’s response, Iraizoz was still inspired from a shot by Villa and the forward shot the rebound high. On the opposite side, Iñaki Muñoz barely missed the goalmouth. Athletic wanted and Valencia entrusted everything to their lethal counterattack, more so after Balenziaga was sent off for double yellows in a debatable play for our wise experts, who are now perhaps bottled in more complex questions; a double yellow card in a match in which Marchena and Edu also deserved to be sent off to the showers with similar precedence to that of Balenziaga.
Between take away that one card, the match turned into a sort of Iraizoz/Villa challenge. The keeper blocked everything, occasionally even to Vicente and the forward was becoming desperate in what many interpreted as their last match with the local jersey. Nevertheless, close to the end of regulation time a lost ball in centre field brought about a pass from the right to the 18-yard box and the forward did not forgive. The result was not totally unjust, it’s just that the goal came after a goal kick with which Iraola had finished a great play. The right winger had controlled the ball at the halfway line and after getting away from five opponents, sometimes on two different occasions, he shot snugly toward the post, but just wide. It was a pity because a draw would not have been a bad farewell.
Be it as it may, our team is already charging batteries in view of next season, in which the start will be just as exciting as demanding. Good balance for the current season on the verge of a title, which is no obstacle to recognize that there are plenty of aspects in which to improve.