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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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Again, not the best of months :P
Oz96: Laporte, when he's in-form, is one of the best defenders in the league. Defence does need to get a grip though!
Justice: I am very happy with the goals we're scoring but lapses in concentration are costing us dearly. We really too much on our attack and you're right, that is seeing us lose games where we should be coming away with at least 1 point.
OMGItsToddzy: That pun tho.
Tallery: Not the best, but still up there. Hopefully when we rectify our defensive mistakes then we can score AND not concede as many :P
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7 yearsEdited
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP STAGE
Part Two
Athletic have secured their place in the next round of the Champions League, however it was not without a slight wobble. The Basque team headed into the return games with a win in each of the first ties, however they could only manage one win for the rest of the stage.

ATHLETIC 1-1 SCHALKE
GOMEZ

Athletic started the second-half of their Group fixtures with the return of the team they last played in Gelsenkirchen's Schalke 04. The last game was a very entertaining affair with the Spaniards claiming a 3-2 victory, however with Bilbao in touching distance of the Knockout rounds this time the game was a little bit more cagey. In the first-half the home side sat back with the ball and didn't look to attack too often. They had conceded silly goals from counter-attacks recently and it was clear that Quique Flores was happy to come away with just one point. After half-time Athletic pushed out a little bit more but after a little bit of genius from young Maxi Meyer, Schalke managed to grab a goal through the Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. This forced Athletic to push into the Schalke half more and push for an equaliser and late into the game they found just that. Benat headed a pass to Aritz Aduriz who beautifully flicked it into the path of Ibai Gomez. Gomez ran at the keeper and rounded him off before tapping home. After this Athletic didn't sit back, they continued to push forward however it was too late and they could not find the winner.

CSKA 4-3 ATHLETIC
VIGUERA (x2), AKETXE

A cold night in Russia saw a performance very typical of Bilbao in recent games. The last meeting between these two ended in a 2-1 Bilbao win and this game started off similarly with Bilbao seeing a lot of possession in CSKA's half, however it was the Russian's who got off to the best start with 2 goals just before half-time. 35 year-old Sergey Ignashevich headed in their first from a well worked corner, then Brazilian Matheus powered their second into the bottom corner from outside the box. Coming out for the second-half Bilbao looked like they had been given a bollocking off Flores as they looked forward a lot more to try and find a way back into the game and on the fifteeth minute they looked as if they had found a way back into the game when Aketxe ran in the ball from a poor parry back into the box from the CSKA keeper, however they found an answer straight after with Mathues finding the net again minutes later. After this Athletic threw all their men forward and a fantastic substitution saw Borja Viguera come on for Aritz Aduriz, the away fans booed the move at first however they were left red-faced when Borja Viguera hit home a beautiful volley from just inside the box into the top corner to bring Athletic back into contention. Minutes later the substitute managed grab an equaliser from a power header after a great cross from Muniain. Athletic pushed for a winner, as they did against Schalke, however it was not to be. Late on in the game the away team found themselves with too many men up the pitch and CSKA grabbed a late winner after a fast counter-attack fell to Aleksanders Cauna. Despite this loss, despair turned to happiness when it was announced around the stadium that Ludogorets managed to hold onto a goalless draw at home to Schalke, meaning that despite the results of the last game both Athletic and CSKA were through to the next round.

ATHLETIC 4-0 LUDOGORETS
MUNIAIN, AKETXE, VIGUERA, IRAOLA

Athletic found themselves going into the last game of the group stage with no pressure on getting a result, this gave Quique Flores a chance to play some fringe players against a Ludogorets side who were also already confirmed to finish bottom. Iker Muniain set Bilbao on their way to a big victory in the first half with a shot from 30 yards out which curved and dipped it's way into the top-left corner leaving the goalkeeper standing. Ager Aketxe then made sure that Bilbao went into the half-two up when another Muniain rocket hit the post and rebounded to him and Aketxe coolly tapped it across the line. Athletic came out for the second half with the same fire and Borja Vigeuro headed pushed in their third after a goal-line scramble. Despite the lead Athletic were left down to ten-men after a nasty challenge from Aymeric Laporte sparked up a commotion between the two sets of players. When the heat had died down Laporte was sent off, as was Aaron Mokoena for Ludogorets who decided to try and throw a punch at the french man. Late into the game Athletic won themselves a penalty when Borja Viguera was pushed down inside the box when battling to win a header from a corner. The captain Andoni Iraola stepped up and slotted the ball down low to his right to finish off a good afternoon that saw Quique Flores lead his side out of the Group Stage and into the Knockout Rounds.

GROUP TABLE


Name: Pts - GD
1. ATHLETIC: 13 - +7
2. CSKA: 13 - +4
3. SCHALKE: 6 - (2)
4. LUDOGORETS: 1 - (9)

PLAYER OF THE ROUND

Young midfielder Ager Aketxe was given his chance in the Group Stage by Quique Flores and he did not disappoint. The 21 year-old was a big part in many of Athletic's attacks along with scoring 3 of his own. Ager will hope that his performances will cause the manager to think about giving him run-outs in the league.

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Tough loss there to CSKA
Aketxe in some really nice form...can I have a screenshot? :))
Tallery: Tough but all that matters is we're through in my opinion.
Neal:
Zap's avatar Group Zap
7 yearsEdited

HERRERA CLOSE TO BILBAO RETURN


Reports are suggesting that Quique Flores is preparing to put in a bid to bring Manchester United's Ander Herrera back to Mamés . The 25 year-old midfielder moved to Old Trafford from Bilbao in the summer for £30.5m, however in recent weeks he has spoke about his discontent with life in England and may consider a return.

It was quite clear to everyone that Ander was unhappy. The Spaniard has openly criticised manager Louis Van Gaal over game time and has alleged to have not turned up for training on multiple occasions. Ander has only hit the pitch in 10 of United's games this season and has not hit any sort of form during his time. Despite this Van Gaal has stated that he wants Ander to come around and focus on making things right at Old Trafford.

However over the last few weeks Ander has been sent abuse on Social Media by United fans, with fans sending him messages over Twitter such as "P*** off back to Spain" and "You're not fit to wear the United Shirt". This will only push Ander closer to the door, making it harder for Van Gaal to keep hold of him. If the player was to hand in a transfer request then he would have to look hard at selling to keep everybody happy.

There have been rumours from within the Bilbao camp that a big money is to be offered to bring back Herrera and this may be on offer that the unhappy midfielder can not refuse. Ander Herrera made his name at the Basque club after moving from Real Zaragoza in 2011, he played 3 great seasons for Athletic before moving to Manchester United as one of Louis Van Gaal's first signings as manager.

Can Herrera's United career be saved?
Louis Van Gaal believes that there is still a future for Ander Herrera at United and will look to hold on to him despite the players discontent and the fans anger. Whilst it is true that Herrera has struck out at his club there has been no official transfer request handed in and, if he is to decide that he wants to stay at the club, good performances for the rest of the season may be able to bring the fans back on his side.

What is the reaction of the Bilbao fans?
The majority of Bilbao fans seem to be very excited to have the prospect of Ander Herrera returning to the Basque country, however there is a small group of fans of whom believe that the team don't really need to spend a lot of money on Ander when they already have Beñat, who has hit very good form during the first half of the season, and Mikel Rico as a good back-up.

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7 yearsEdited

BACK TO FORM: DECEMBER (2014)

Athletic have finally seemed to hit a bit of consistency as they end 2014 and head into 2015 on the back of a great December with the team picking up six out of six points in the league and victories over Segunda side Gimnàstic to push them into the next round of the Copa del Rey.

GIMNASTIC 1-3 ATHLETIC (Copa del Rey 5th Round Leg 1)
AKETXE (x2), GOMEZ

After a three month curse of Athletic losing their first game of the month, Athletic have finally broke it by claiming victory over lower Segunda side Gimnàstic. Ager Aketxe kept on his good form by opening the scoring in the first minute with a low drilled shot into the bottom left corner. This goal pretty much set up the match and it only took five minutes until Aketxe was wheeling off in celebration once again. This time a good passing move started by Mikel Rico fell to Susaeta who thread through a beautiful ball to the 21 year-old who calmly wrong-footed the keeper. Athletic were cruising throughout the first-half and they will be majorly disappointed when a collapse in concentration saw Rayco break through the defence and slot home a goal just before half-time for the home team. During half-time Quique must have gave his team a boot up the backside as they came out for the second-half as they did for the first. Borja Viguera was snatching at chances to extend Bilbao's lead at the start of the second-half so Iker Hernandez was brought on at the hour mark and he helped set-up Athletic's third when he flicked the ball with his heel over his marker and span round him, leaving him dazzled. Iker then saw Ibai Gómez out wide and played a lofted through-ball into the box of which Ibai Gómez smashed home to take a 2 goal advantage into the second leg at San Mamés.

REAL SOCIEDAD 0-2 ATHLETIC
ADURIZ (x2)

Coming back off their win in the Copa del Rey, Athletic faced off against rivals Real Sociedad in the first big Basque derby of the year. Bilbao fans will be delighted to bag the bragging rights over their San Sebastian neighbours with a comfortable and well-deserved two goal victory away at Anoeta. Nothing much happened throughout the first fourty-five minutes as the two sides pulled and pushed each other trying to find weaknesses. The closest anyone came to opening the scoring was Gonzalo Castro when he managed to turn Andoni Iraola, however his shot only managed to ripple the side-netting. After half-time, however, it was the away side who grabbed the first goal. A fantastic kick from Kepa Arrizabalaga saw Aritz Aduriz one-on-one with the goalkeeper and he fainted to go right before switching to left and passing it to the net. Real Sociedad attacked to try and find an equaliser from this point on and that cost them dear in the end as Muniain caught the ball during an attack. Iker then ran down the pitch before crossing a ball into Aritz Aduriz who headed the ball neatly into the corner off the net to secure the points for his team.

ATHLETIC 1-0 GIMNASTIC (Copa del Rey 5th Round 2nd Leg)
VIGUERA

Despite fielding a second-strength team, Athletic fans were sent home slightly disappointed to only be able to find one goal against Segunda side Gimnàstic in their Copa del Rey home leg. Athletic held the ball into the ball first-half but done nothing of note with it and the team walked off to half-time to whistles from the crowd who had payed to be entertained. From the second-half on Athletic pushed more into the opposition area, however they still didn't have many shots. Their only goal came from a corner when Muniain hit the ball into the box and Borja Viguera rose, unmarked, to head it past the keeper. That point onward Athletic sat back into the middle and refused to be broke down, but refused to push forward. It was clear that Quique Flores' side did not want to concede but the fans seemed to think that Gimnàstic were there to be attacked. Despite this Athletic found themselves through to the next round of the cup.

ATHLETIC 3-1 ATLETICO
BENAT (x2), DE MARCOS

Quique Flores described this game as the most satisfying game of his time at Athletic so far. Atlético were sitting very much around Bilbao in the table, however the Basque side seemed to be able to swipe the La Liga Champions aside as they marched on into 2015. Beñat started the scoring with a wonderfully placed free-kick from just outside the box. It looked as if there wasn't even room to lift the ball over the wall and then back down enough to score, but Beñat done just that and the ball nestled into the postage stamp in the top-left corner of the goal. Beñat scored his second very shortly after when Miranda headed the ball out after a Bilbao corner straight into the feet of the midfielder. Beñat backed off slightly before slamming home a powerful drive into the bottom of the net through a bundle of players. Just before half-time Bilbao made it three as Beñat, who was on top of his game, slotted a ball through Tiago's legs and into the path of Óscar de Marcos. The 25 year-old had recently been replaced by Ager Aketxe, a player who had hit good form, and was delighted with the opportunity to show everyone he's still the better choice as he pushed the ball through the legs of on rushing Miguel Ángel Moyà before poked the ball into the empty net. During the second-half Athletic, obviously pleased by their three goal lead, took the foot off the gas and sat back. Atlético piled on the pressure however they could not break through until the very end when an optimistic shot from Mario Suarez took a wild deflection and nestled into the complete other side of the net than the shot was intended to go. Athletic fans will be hope that this month will spark a bit of consistency into their season as they continue to battle for a Champions League spot.

LEAGUE TABLE


Name: Pts - GD
1. BARCELONA: 36 - +38
2. VILLAREAL: 33 - +13
3. ATLETICO: 32 - +17
4. ATHLETIC: 31 - +10
5. R MADRID: 29 - +19*
6. DEPORTIVO: 24 - +1
7. VALENCIA: 23 - +5

*Due to the FIFA Club World Cup Real Madrid have missed their La Liga games for December and as a result have 2 games in-hand on teams around them.

PLAYER OF THE MONTH

Beñat has proved himself many times in the heart of Athletic's midfield and this month he has shown why he is crucial to their possession play. His fantastic game against Atlético was one of the best performances a midfielder could give and is typical of his game.

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I love your simple update style, nice and sleek. Good job so far!
These updates egh, so good. If you could get Herrera back, what a signing he would be!

100 WOOOOO

Zap's avatar Group Zap
7 yearsEdited
Feliks: Thanks man!
Tallery: He would be incredible and thanks!

100 Comments
Thanks guys! It means a lot that this is my second story to get to this milestone. Unlike the Hearts story, which was prematurely brought to an end, I plan for this one to go on for a long time. I am edging ever close to 10000 views, which is my main aim, and I absolutely love the support I am getting for this story! You guys are the best I tell you!!
Zap's avatar Group Zap
7 yearsEdited

GROUP STAGE REVIEW


Last month saw the Champions League Group Stage come to an end and with it came a few surprises with a couple of big teams failing to qualify for the next round of the cup and some of the smaller teams putting in a good showing of themselves. Ready for the Knockout Round Draw coming soon, we will go through how each group ended and see who will be in the pot.

GROUP A
1. BARCELONA: 14 - +15
2. LIVERPOOL: 13 - +3

3. BASEL: 7 - (3)
4. MALMO: 0 - (15)


GROUP B
1. BAYERN: 14 - +7
2. MAN CITY: 8 - +1

3. NAPOLI: 5 - (1)
4. MONACO: 3 - (7)


GROUP C
1. ATLETICO: 11 - +4
2. LEVERKUSEN: 11 - +4

3. RB SALZBURG: 7 - 0
4. ANDERLECHT: 3 - (8)


GROUP D
1. ZENIT: 15 - +12
2. AJAX: 13 - +6

3. BENFICA: 4 - (8)
4. SPARTA: 3 - (10)


GROUP E
1. JUVENTUS: 13 - +8
2. GALATASARAY: 11 - +5

3. PSG: 9 - (1)
4. APOEL: 1 - (12)


GROUP F
1. R MADRID: 16 - +8
2. LILLE: 10 - +3

3. OLYMPIACOS: 4 - (3)
4. SPORTING: 4 - (8)


GROUP G
1. ATHLETIC: 13 - +7
2. CSKA: 13 - +4

3. SCHALKE: 6 - (2)
4. LUDOGORETS: 1 - (9)


GROUP H
1. CHELSEA: 13 - +4
2. ROMA: 8 - +1

3. DORTMUND: 8 - 0
4. SHAKHTAR: 4 - (5)

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Love how this update was set out :-O Great work to get out of that group as well mate!
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7 yearsEdited

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FIRST KO ROUND DRAW


Tonight saw the UEFA hold the draws for the Champions League and Europa League first knockout rounds at their headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. President Michel Platini was helped to draw the teams for this years First Knockout Round by former Arsenal and French National Team legend Thierry Henry along with Spain National Team and Real Madrid hero Raul. The first team to be picked out for each tie will play their first leg at home.

AJAX v CHELSEA

2012 Champions League winners Chelsea will be happy with this draw as they have avoided some of the large names, however Ajax are not a team to become complacent around and will do their all to give Chelsea a game. The Blues have only been in two Champions League finals, winning one. Ajax have competed in six and have won four, this includes a run of three straight victories from 1971 to 1973.

LIVERPOOL v ATHLETIC

Liverpool will be hoping to put a run together in the Champions League after a 5 year absence from the competition. Their opponents have never reached the final before, however they too will be looking to give a good account of themselves and this will be a tough game to call. The last time the Reds have been in the final was in 2007 where they fell to AC Milan after beating them in the final just two years before following a stunning comeback.

CSKA v BAYERN

FC Bayern are one of the front runners for the competition and will fancy their chances against Russian champions CSKA. However, as Schalke showed in the group stage, they are a lot harder tie than they look and this may be a tough game if Bayern let their confidence over-ride their performance. Bayern won the competition in 2013 after finishing runners-up to Chelsea just the year before.

MAN CITY v ATLETICO

This mouth-watering tie has been drawn as two teams, who have never lifted the Champions League, find themselves looking to go to the very end. Atletico are La Liga champions after a superb season saw them climb above the giants of Real Madrid and Barcelona, they also managed to reach the final but they could not get past their Madrid neighbours in this competition. Man City are also champions as they drifted past Chelsea and Liverpool to take the title.

LEVERKUSEN v JUVENTUS

Bayer Leverkusen reached the final in 2002, however they lost to Real Madrid's ninth title. They have been drawn to play against Italian giants Juventus, who will be very keen on winning their first Champions League for 19 years. Since then they have reached three finals and have lost to Dortmund (1997), Real Madrid (1998) and Milan (2003).

ROMA v ZENIT

Zenit will be looking to continue their recent Champions League form by claiming a big victory against Roma, who only managed to qualify through their group on Goal Difference. The Russian side currently field the two top-scorers in the competition in Hulk (11) and Kerzhakov (8). Despite this, Roma are a massive side and will certainly fancy their chances against Zenit and this may be a surprisingly large game.

LILLE v BARCELONA

Arguably the smallest team in the competition, Lille, have been drawn up against the mighty Barcelona. The Catalans have been in fantastic form this season and sit at the top of La Liga. This result can only be seen going in Barcelona's way and Lille will be lucky to come out without embarrassing themselves.

GALATASARAY v REAL MADRID

The current holders in the competition have been placed to play against Turkish runners-up Galatasaray. Real Madrid have done celebrating their 'La Decima' win last season and have returned to try and win their eleventh Champions League Trophy. Galatasaray will try and stand up to them and have shown in the past that they can give a good showing off themselves however they will be sure they can skip past this round.

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