The Lions seconds away from winning the last friendly of their German tour, but Mainz levelled in the final minute
Athletic Club drew 1-1 against FSV Mainz 05 on Saturday evening. Nonetheless the Lions will return to Bilbao content with the work done over the course of their training camp in Germany.
Los Rojiblancos took the lead thanks to Nico Williams‘ wonderful curled effort, but Mainz’sEdmilson Fernandes made sure the game finished even with a last-minute strike.
With the two teams at different stages in their preparations – Bundesliga is now 11 days away – and Athletic having played against Bochum two days ago, the Lions struggled to find their rhythm against a well-drilled Mainz side.
The match was split into four 30-minute quarters to ensure more players got minutes under their belts. It was clear from the start that Mainz, who finished eighth in the Bundesliga last season, were going to be a tough opponent. They were powerful in the challenge and difficult to stop on the counter-attack.
Ernesto Valverde used the opportunity to experiment with line-ups and formatons, for example starting Jon Morcillo at left-back and Alex Petxarromán as a pivot. Morcillo had Athletic’s first chance of the encounter, his effort blocked by goalkeeper Robin Zentner not long after the hosts had an effort ruled out for offside.
Nico put Athletic ahead in the 40th minute, firing in a swerving shot from the edge of the box after being teed up by his older brother Iñaki Williams. Shortly after, Iñaki hit the post after getting a touch to a Morcillo cross.
Valverde rung the changes at the hour-mark, with a new look XI taking to the pitch. Mainz kept pushing and put the Lions’ defence under pressure. Marlon Mustapha powered his way into the box before hitting the post and Ander Iru made a good diving save to deny the Germans a few minutes later.