Athletic Club 0 – Granada 1Athletic Club lost against Granada CF by 0-1. Iñigo Lopez…
Athletic Club 0 – Granada 1
Athletic Club lost against Granada CF by 0-1. Iñigo Lopez scored the winning goal for his team with a header from a corner kick in the minute 31. In the hands of an orphaned defeat, came the end to an eleven undefeated match streak, which could only open doors to the beginning, as soon as possible, of hopefully another similar positive run.
Although this afternoon’s defeat was undeserved, it would at least be advisable that to our team be clear on the fact that the problem we are apparently faced with is not to lose points against recently promoted teams, or teams at the bottom of the table, but a more piercing one. Concretely, it is all about becoming more aware of the fact that selfish and more or less ultraconservative approaches will be the watchword for most spectators that visit us in San Mamés, beyond their own place on the table, and that more than one will play that way on their own ground. In view of the circumstances, it is merely in football where answers should be found to the difficulties that await us. On the contrary, our team has been consistent in their game this season; they are faithful to their way of understanding soccer and have tried, until the end, with bursts of energy worthy of a better cause, though there are days.
In the end the predictions were fulfilled, and we are not talking about the result. The most optimistic projections advised us of a rival that would stay in the back, with enormous defensive work, constant assistance to close up spaces, special attention to strategic plays and with the clock on their side whilst they weren’t at a disadvantage. If we add the fact that practically in their first set play they scored the 0-1, the task felt even more difficult.
From the first minute the diagnosis was crystal clear. The whole Granada squad was in the back, on their side of the field awaiting the arrival of the rojiblanco offensive moves. And, in that persistence Susaeta took all the credit. In a nutshell, he enjoyed five goal attempts; to summarize the outcome of the rojiblanco that today related most with the opponent’s goal.
The first in the minute 10 when his shot after a pass from Llorente bounced off a defence; the second in the fourteenth after finishing off an accurate collective play, but a defender interfered; the third, in the 57th, when his header went wide; the fourth, a shot on goal after receiving a pass from Llorente and the fifth, and clearest, in injury time when, from up close, a shot on goal with his left that could have winded up anywhere finally ended up with the goalie.
Before and during Athletic combined ball possession (today, as was seen, it was not enough) with workaholic pressure, long and short balls to the feet, placement and, little by little, it accumulated more and more goal occasions, but not all with the necessary clarity to unbalance (and soon balance) the encounter. For example, Llorente turned a long distance ball from Martinez on the half-turn that went high and in the 28th a chip shot by Herrera was deflected by Roberto with his feet.
However, what about Granada? A shot by Uche, flat and slow in the 28th was the first goal warning, but they did not need any other since in the 31st a corner kick was finished off by Iñigo Lopez before three defenders and Granada closed up still more; apparently, it appeared possible.
Athletic Club, also spurred by stands that almost filled San Mamés, moved further up. In plain view it seemed possible. Except for a volley by Iraola to the side post in the minute 35, the final stretch of the first half served as a test tube for what would happen in the second. Challenges and cards to give away laid everything out.
One of those warned, Aurtenetxe, was substituted by Gabilondo who occupied his position, although further up, since his place on the field was covered by De Marcos, which moved Muniain to the centre. The tendency was that which was foretold, more so with the 0-1, Granada in the back despite the two digressions by Jara and Rico just on start-up, and an Athletic that was totally devoted from the minute 46, with all the risks assumed.
Once the framework was adjusted and with a turn of the screw towards pressure, Athletic Club interpreted another monologue, but with interferences and saturations in the form of foolish crosses with little height or off target and with a lot of anxiety as the minutes passed without compensation on the scoreboard, something that we’ve already been through, for example against Salzburg, even though we drew from the penalty spot. So, passes were less accurate and offensive holes even smaller.
With the intention of improving Bielsa’s benefits he introduced David Lopez for Herrera, becoming the fourth alternative in the game after De Marcos, Muniain and Herrera. The panorama barely changed as there was no room. The Andalusians barely left their cave and when they did they created danger, as Mikel Rico in the 64th, before an Athletic in which Martinez ended up playing as centre-forward. In addition, Fabri wanted to play with Benítez’ speed trick on the offensive line when he brought him in for Jara in the 67th.
On the contrary Athletic doubled their effort, stealing balls, offensive moves and attempts to reach the area, and like that one and a thousand times. Gabilondo a wide header in the 69th; David Lopez from a free-kick that Robert deflected when he penetrated in the 70th and Javi Martinez sent off to corner, but Roberto warded off a point-blank header by Javi Martinez. Iñigo Perez substituted De Marcos in the wing.
Gabilondo and Iraola, with wide shots, heralded a shot by Benítez into Iraizoz’ hands while the person in charge of writing this report lost a bet by having foretold that the goalie, Roberto, would see a yellow card in the minute 87 after committing, for several reasons, what the same goalkeeper and his mates already took into effect since the minute 10 of play. It was the 86th and even on the report it appears prior to that time. Let’s see, it’s just that they decided to squander on time, an older and healthier practice than tinkling on a wall and, that usually finds many answers on the basis of the credibility degree that its practice shows. That is, that after suspicious falls, ‘yielded’ balls that appeared to be pure clearances and worthy falls of “Life of Brian’, our players risked everything and continued their game, even after the repeated requests by their coach.
It wasn’t much to ask for, one or two penalties which never came through. As we well know, neither the referee nor Athletic are lucky when their professional paths cross. Against all odds, the dripping of decisions that seemed innocuous but those which continue to undermine and occur must go on to be a part of the inventory.
In the meantime, the rojiblancos seemed to bring out their worth with strength on the offensive and the incorporations of Amorebieta, including a header, and even the occasion Susaeta had at his feet. However, at the end if there are no goals the deception of spectators is quite logical, more than for their game, indeed due to the fact that a tidy and shaped game with the conviction that this time the end result did not accompany them. Let us hope that this serves as a lesson for the following rival that sets similar difficulties, perhaps this coming Thursday against Slovan.
Finally, with sight set on the table, our team is eighth, a position that must be improved and in which it’s not necessary to worry about relocation, since those that placed us high on that table will surely have placed us in the lower part. We must simply continue in the same way: cantered on the next match and winning it should be our only objective until the time comes when the season in which desires and realities place each team looking towards their own particular Mecca. As long as fans/followers respond as they have done today and results accompany the match played we are satisfied.