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Athletic Bilbao - Los Leones Rugientes

Read how Quique Flores battles with the Basque ruling in his endeavor to take Bilbao to new heights!
Started on 16 December 2014 by Zap
Latest Reply on 8 October 2015 by InvertedWingbacks
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Zap's avatar Group Zap
6 yearsEdited
ATHLETIC v ARSENAL
Play-Off Leg 2


Athletic
Starting XI - Iraizoz; Iraola, Laporte, Gurpegi, Aurtenetxe; Beñat, Itturaspe, Susaeta, De Marcos, Muniain; Aduriz
Bench - San Jose, Balenziaga, Moran, Rico, Gomez, Etxeita, Viguera

Arsenal
Starting XI - Martínez; Debuchy, Koscielny, Chambers, Gibbs; Flamini, Wilshere, Sanchez, Arteta, Cazorla; Welbeck
Bench - Szczesny, Monreal, Özil, Giroud, Podolski, Bellerín, Oxlade-Chamberlain


After defeat to Arsenal in the first leg off their Champions League Play-Off game, Athletic had it all to do in the second leg, however, this time they were the home time and the Bilbao fans had packed the stadium out to hopefully help push their team on. The atmosphere was building to see how Quique Flores' first competitive home game would pan out.

Arsenal made two changes to the team that started at The Emirates. Young Englishman Calum Chambers replace Per Mertesacker at the back and Lukas Podolski was demoted to the bench with Flamini taking his place. Athletic also made two changes with Flores deciding to start Aurtenetxe over Belenziaga and starting Ander Itturaspe after his return from injury.

From Kick-Off it was clear to see that Athletic were determined to bring the game back and they dominated the game in the early parts of the game. Aduriz put the Basque side 1-0 up in the fifth minute with a powerful header over Martinez from a Susaeta cross. This put Athletic back on level terms on aggregate, however they were also leading on away-goals.

The game carried on with Athletic keeping the ball in their midfield and not letting Arsenal put a meaningful spell together. They knew that, if they gave Arsenal a chance, they would probably take it and that would put Athletic on the back foot. One way of stopping this from happening was to keep hold of the ball, as they were doing, however another way of stopping a possible comeback was to grab another goal and this is what they managed to achieve just before half-time. Aduriz ran on to a well-placed through ball from Oscar De Marcos and made no mistake in placing the ball past Martinez and into the far corner.

Arsenal came out after half-time with a bit more fight in them, knowing that they needed to score 2 more goals if they were to stay in the competition. They started off the half with a few decent attacks, however Athletic's defence remained solid and kept Arsenal from getting any good efforts away on-goal. However, Arsenal pushed and pushed until Danny Welbeck hit a superb shot from just outside the box, but Iraizoz came out of nowhere with a flying save to stop the ball powering into the bottom corner.

Arsenal could not get the goal they needed and were punished in the 80th minute when Aritz Aduriz completed his hat-trick and confirmed Athletic's place in the Group Stage. Ibai Gomez had just came on when he was asked to take a free-kick from a very wide position. He whipped the ball across the box and Aduriz turned the ball into the net before jumping over the advertising boards and celebrating with the delighted crowd.

The roof lifted off at full-time as the players walked round the pitch to celebrate the comeback with their fans. "I now know what my players are capable off, they are a really great bunch to be around and I am so glad to be here. Spirits will be high after this, however we need to concentrate on up-and-coming games. There shall be no time for celebrations."

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Laurens's avatar Group Laurens
6 yearsEdited
Nice story! Very fun to read, Atletic is a very nice team.
Keep posting love to read it
2015-02-02 20:23#207334 RicardoKishnaajacied : Nice story! Very fun to read, Atletico Madrid is a very nice team.
Keep posting love to read it

It's Bilbao, Ricardo :P

Anyway - great result, knew you could do it :P
2015-02-02 20:42#207336 Tallery :
2015-02-02 20:23#207334 RicardoKishnaajacied : Nice story! Very fun to read, Atletico Madrid is a very nice team.
Keep posting love to read it

It's Bilbao, Ricardo :P

Anyway - great result, knew you could do it :P

Omg I feel so stypid right now
a really detailed comment
1
Well done, especially against Arsenal. Hopefully this will boost Iturraspe's value if you decide to sell him!
Zap's avatar Group Zap
6 yearsEdited
Ricardo: Atletico IS a nice team, mine is better though! :P
Tall: Thanks for believing in me!
Paker: Thanks! Oh and it will definitely boost Ander's value, however hopefully it will also make him want to stay.
Beautiful graphics and perfect layout.

I will be following!
Zap's avatar Group Zap
6 yearsEdited

SEGURA SNAPS UP ASSISTANT ROLE


Athletic head coach Quique Flores has announced the appointment off Josep Segura as his new assistant after the departure off former number two Jon Aspiazu earlier this month.

Segura, 57, joins Flores' side after a spell of three years since his last job in football with Liverpool. He was Under 18s Manager at the Merseyside club for three seasons, however he was released from his contract alongside reserve team boss John McMahon. Josep has stated that he wasn't really interested in returning to football, however this opportunity was too good to turn down.

"I had a great time working in football, however I fell out of love with the game slightly when I lost my job with Liverpool," opened Josep after he was announced as Athletic's new number two. "Three years past that I concentrated on my personal life and I was close to calling my career to it's end, but Quique came in and offered me the chance to work beside him and that was an offer I could not refuse. I am excited to work at the club with so many great players and I am looking forward to working closer to home. However, I am most excited on getting back into football. I can't wait to get started."

Who exactly is Josep Segura?
Josep is a Spanish coach that started his career at Barcelona in 2001 where he moved up through the ranks to become assistant manager with Barcelona's B side. He took time off after moving on from Barcelona until he was announced as assistant at AEK Athens. The next season he moved on to Greek giants Olympiacos where he worked beside Takis Lemonis until Takis was sacked and Josep took over as Manager. Josep moved on after the end of his first season with Olympiacos, despite winning two titles, as the board wanted to bring in a new head coach that had more experience. From there on he agreed to join Liverpool and work for their academy.

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Zap's avatar Group Zap
6 yearsEdited

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP STAGE DRAW


This afternoon UEFA held the group stage draw for both the Champions League and Europa League inside their headquarters in Zurich. Helped by former England International Michael Owen, Portugese legend Luis Figo and Italian Alessandro del Piero, President Michel Platini drew out the Groups for this seasons Champions League Group Stage.


GROUP A
BARCELONA, BASEL, LIVERPOOL, MALMO FF

Both Barcelona and Liverpool will be feeling that they should be qualifying from this group, however neither club will be looking forward to the harsh winter weather of Scandanavia, and Basel is known to be a tough place to visit and come away unscathed. Either of these two underdogs could cause a shock.

GROUP B
FC BAYERN, MAN CITY, MONACO, NAPOLI

This Group has been named the group of death this season. Group B holds two clubs who will both believe can go all the way in this competition, however it also holds two large clubs who will want to progress into the further reaches of the cup. Man City and Munich will need to be at there consistent best to ensure that they don't drop out as early as the group stages.

GROUP C
ANDERLECHT, ATLETICO, FC RED BULL SALZBURG, LEVERKUSEN

Atlético Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen will feel that they should coast comfortable through this group. However, with two champions of two smaller nations, this may not be as easy as it seems. Leverkusen head-coach will return back to return to Salzburg to face the team that he helped reach this years competition and Salzburg will want to put in there best efforts. Anderlecht are also not a team to be taken lightly, they have a team that have impressed and will be looking to show their stars out to a larger audience.

GROUP D
AJAX, BENFICA, SPARTA PRAHA, ZENIT

This may not seem like a powerful group, however it will be a tightly fought contest between four equally ranked teams. Ajax, Benfica and Sparta are all current champions of their respective nations, however Zenit disappointingly finished second in their league.

GROUP E
APOEL, GALATASARAY, JUVENTUS, PSG

The two giants of Juventus and PSG will be happy enough with the group that they have been drawn in. Whilst they may be favourites, however, Galatasaray will want to prove that they can mix it in with the big boys with the squad they have and they are an incredibly tough team to travel away to. Also, you never know what APOEL may bring to this years table.

GROUP F
LILLE, OLYMPIACOS, REAL MADRID, SPORTING CP

Real Madrid fans will be thanking the heavens that they have been drawn in a group that they will be clear favourites to glide through. The 'La Decima' champions will be hoping that their team will have enough in them to easily push their way past the rest of the group. The real question is, who will be joining them?

GROUP G
ATHLETIC, CSKA MOSCOW, LUDOGORETS, SCHALKE

Ludogorets have avoided all the top guns, what is their prize? They have been drawn with three large sides who they will be praying underestimate them and become complacent. Athletic and Schalke will be the favourites to progress, however CSKA are the current champions of Russia and may spring up with a surprise or two.

GROUP H
CHELSEA, DORTMUND, ROMA, SHAKHTAR

Another tough group as four teams who will believe they have a chance of going far go head-to-head. Chelsea will believe that they can win the group and most people will agree that they are favourites for this group, however Roma and Dortmund are two quality sides who will put up a fight against each other and against Chelsea. Shakhtar are the underdogs, but they will want to try and cause an upset.


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Great draw for you Zap, should realistically be able to progress to the last 16!
Maximus94: Thanks for your support!
jt1994: It is a decent draw and I share your belief.
Interesting draw - Schalke will pose a challenge, and Ludogorets would be a tough team to beat, they will be defensive. CSKA will be interesting too, but I feel, as you showed by knocking out Arsenal, you can qualify for Ro16
Zap's avatar Group Zap
6 yearsEdited

A BEAUTIFUL START: AUGUST (2014)

Athletic got their domestic season off to a flying start after continuing their impressive run from pre-season. Two comfortable victories over mid-table sides was a great way for Quique Flores to introduce himself back to La Liga and show what his team is capable off. Athletic were certainly showed that they were out to attack the league, scoring seven goals in their two opening games.

MALAGA 1-4 ATHLETIC
SUSAETA, MUNIAIN, LAPORTE, IRAOLA

Athletic took their first game with wind in their sales after a good pre-season and a fantastic comeback victory over Arsenal, and boy did it show. It took Athletic half-an-hour to grab their first goal, however from that point on they never looked back and Málaga's defence seemed to crumble under Bilbao attacks. The opener came with Susaeta playfully cutting inside his marker and then unleashing a shot past the keeper into the near post. It then took a mere five minutes until Athletic doubled the lead. Muniain took a slightly exaggerated tumble in the box and Iraola stepped up to smash the ball down the middle of the net. Athletic started up the second half as they ended the first, keeping hold of the ball for long periods of time and trying to force a gap in the opposition defence. Just within the hour the Basque boys were three up after Muniain powered home a beautiful volley from just inside the box, leaving the Málaga keeper rooted. Laporte headed home Athletic's fourth from a corner on the 80th minute mark, however Flores will have been slightly disappointed when his team let Juanmi battle through to grab a consolation deep into stoppage time. Despite this, however, it was a great game for Bilbao to get their season off the ground.

ATHLETIC 3-1 LEVANTE
SUSAETA (x2), DE MARCOS

Shimmering with confidence after dismantling Málaga, Athletic stepped out in-front off a packed crowd for their first home game off the season. From the start to finish you could clearly tell the better team. Athletic were calm and composed in every pass and every movement, and you could feel the excitement inside San Mamés as Bilbao looked to hit Levante hard. It didn't take long for Óscar De Marcos to start off his goal tally, tapping home after a poor parry from Levante's keeper. One minute, yes one minute later, Bilbao were two up. Straight from kick-off Aritz Aduriz grabbed the ball after a poor pass back to midfield and he put in a perfect through-ball that cut through Levante's team, Susaeta ran onto the end of it and rounded off the keeper before slotting the ball past the line. Backed by jubilant fans, they kept hold off the ball in midfield and had a few chances to go three up, however they couldn't find that next goal. A slight scent of uneasiness rippled through the crowd when Levante pulled a goal back in the second-half, but four minutes late Susaeta pushed home his second and Bilbao's third to calm any nerves and guarantee Athletic the three points.

LEAGUE TABLE


Name: Pts - GD
1. ATHLETIC: 6 - +6
2. BARCELONA: 4 - +4
3. R MADRID: 4 - +4
4. RAYO: 4 - +2

5. ALMERIA: 4 - +1
6. GRANADA: 4 - +1

7. VILLAREAL: 4 - +1

PLAYER OF THE MONTH

Markel Susaeta grabbed three goals in Bilbao's opening games to give him a two goal lead at the top of Bilbao's goal-scoring table at this early point of the season. Aswell as grabbing his goals, Markel has also assisted one and is looking like he will be a really key player down the right-flank for Bilbao.

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Really good start to the season mate, it looks like Bilbao could have an impressive season under Quique!

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