Albacete Balompié 0 – Athletic Club 0 Athletic Club has begun the year with a…
Albacete Balompié 0 – Athletic Club 0
Athletic Club has begun the year with a nil-nil draw against Albacete Balompié at the Carlos Belmonte in the first leg of the Copa Round of 16; a result that leaves everything wide open for the second leg to be played on Thursday, 12 January, at 20:00 hours in San Mamés. Good ambiance in the stands, with numerous rojiblanco fan presence, without goals and few occasions, although as we were already getting accustomed to with control of the match during many of its phases, but without depth.
Besides the scarce attempts to score on the part of the rojiblancos, and as was expected, the rival offered great resistance. Just as happens in the Liga and in the rest of competitions, in the Copa, with more reason even as they are gambling it all in 180 minutes, nobody gives anything away for free and there is no better test of that than to review today’s scoreboard.
In the ten first minutes of every half Albacete Balompié had control of the match on the pitch thanks to the advanced pressure, however without translation at times, since during the match they were confined to a couple of stopped shots on goal by Calle saved without problems by Iraizoz.
Once the initial hot flashes passed, Athletic Club took over the helm and, except for the last minutes of the first half, it was dedicated to trying to overcome the defensive barriers of the rival, well organized on the other end. The ball moved with certain fluidity between the lines, but as soon as it neared the area things got complicated.
In this type of closed matches it is usually providential, as already happened in Oviedo, to move ahead on the marker to enjoy more space, therefore more goal occasions. And in the 20 minute, Andoni Iraola had an option to change the course of the match and, by way, to celebrate his entrance in the top-20 of official matches with the Athletic Club jersey, but after gaining the back of the defender who was coming out and thanks to a great pass by Iturraspe, his shot on goal crashed against the post.
A pity! In the 32, another deep pass, although this time from further back and via the boots of Amorebieta, and Susaeta stood before Campos, but he lost control and went long. To end the first half, Albacete once again tightened the screws.
To face the second half Marcelo Bielsa decided to introduce a double change: San Jose for De Marcos and Ibai for Susaeta. The line of three was still more noticeable in this second half, mainly once it was certified that the rival Calle had no near or often immediate company. For Iraola and Aurtenetxe it was a greater offensive leading role and Muniain would play more on the inside.
As we mentioned previously, Albacete came back with determination, but also like in the first half, Iraola was the one in charge of putting the ‘whey!’ in Athletic Club fans’ throats after finishing off, in the minute 52, with a high header from a play initiated by himself.
The course of the minutes resituated Athletic Club in its dominant role. If in the first half the Herrera-Muniain connection caused damage, in the second it was the latter who extended most, although perhaps at times too far from the area, although the conclusion has been identical to that of the first forty-five minutes: handling in three quarters of the field and few created attempts. At least in the second half somewhat more shots were attempted, but without showing off. Let no one forget, in that sense, that our team is on a par of being difficult to beat, it’s not that when they win they win by an excessive difference. In fact they defeated Osasuna by two goals and PSG and Atlético Madrid by three and the rest have been minimal victories.
In one of the penetrations Toquero arrived, he innocently shot into Campos’ hands. The following option has been for Aurtenetxe in the minute 68, but his right footed shot did not meet the goalmouth, Ibai’s did make it with a semi-volley in the 77 and Muniain in the 79 shot near the base post. For the locals, Calles’s balls eliminated pressure and the know-how of the forward was combined with the electricity of Teté, although except for a volley warded off in the 75 there was little more he could contribute.
Aranalde already had Núñez on the hard turf of the Carlos Belmonte in David Torres’ place with the intention of reinforcing the midfield, where Candela (sometimes the type of game and his last name coincided) was later injured to leave his position to Alex Colorado, whereas Añón came in for Rocha.
The rojiblancos wanted to score, but weren’t acute. Iñigo Perez came in for Herrera in the 89 after warming up for almost four minutes in the sideline, something comprehensible because at least with Mateu Lahoz the rate of the matches is high and the interruptions are essential. Certainly he had time to send an intended free-kick that Campos sent to corner and that’s where everything ended for today. One week with illusions opened for both teams until everything is decided in San Mamés, although before the Liga match is re-inaugurated with the visit to Getafe; a totally different story to start looking upwards.