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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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Ooofh not a good draw
Some really good updates here Zap, well written and very well presented! Tough draw for you there, however Arsenal's defence can be shaky sometimes and hopefully that is something you can expose and use to your advantage to achieve a good result! Good luck.
Todd: It is a tough draw you're right and don't you worry, we will be fighting until the final whistle blows in the second leg.
Denzy: Hopefully our fans can help us both away and at home.
Sacuri: Sacuri favor, lloro cada vez. Thanks man!
Tallery: Not a good draw but one I still have belief we can win.
Pompey: Thanks a lot man! Hopefully I can expose their defence and show them what Bilbao are about!
Zap's avatar Group Zap
6 yearsEdited

PRE-SEASON: 2014


A new era at Athletic has well and truly started as Quique Flores will have thoroughly enjoyed the football that his new team have played over pre-season. New tactics mixed with new philosophies have caused a new-look Athletic side to take to the pitch in pre-season. During their 6 friendlies the team have only drawn one, against Champions League opposition in FC Porto, and have claimed comfortable victories in the remaining 5.


ATHLETIC 3-0 BIBLAO ATH.
MUNIAIN, BENAT, DE MARCOS

Athletic got off to a great start to their list of pre-season friendlies with a victory over their B Team, Bilbao Ath. Muniain opened the scoring early on with a great finish into the bottom right-hand corner after cutting in from the left, leaving his marker for dead. Beñat then doubled their lead soon after with a powerful hit from just outside the box after a clearing header from a corner fell straight in his path. Óscar De Marcos neatly rounded of the scoring after keeping his composure in a one-on-one situation, rounding the keeper and calmly placing the ball into the net. Athletic dominated this game, as you would have believed they would, and they got off to pre-season without an in-camp upset.


ATHLETIC 2-2 PORTO
SUSAETA, DE MARCOS

Much tougher opponents lined up against Athletic next as Quique was handed his toughest test of pre-season against Portuguese outlet Porto. Twice the Basque side went ahead and twice they were pegged back, with both teams not able to tackle clear dominance. Susaeta grabbed the opener with after the Porto keeper parried a shot straight to him, Markel had no problem slotting the ball past him and into the net. However Porto were quick to respond as big man Vincent Aboubakar managed to use his great strength to muscle past Laporte and finish past Iraizoz. Not many chances were created at either end until Óscar De Marcos cleared Porto's offside trap and punched the ball past the keeper to score what seemed like the winner at the time. However, Porto again managed to spoil the day as young Spaniard Óliver Torres poked in a late, scrappy equaliser from a goal-line scramble off a corner. This was a real pre-season game and it was clear that both teams needed a bit of work to prepare themselves for the season.


ZALLA 0-3 ATHLETIC
ADURIZ, MUNIAIN, GUILLERMO

A confident performance against Zalla swept Athletic back to winning ways soon after, as the team prepared to travel to much, much easier opponents. Aritz Aduriz out-jumped his marker on a corner and was able to power in a header early on in the game to put his team ahead. Just before half-time Iker Muniain doubled their lead with an unbelievable strike from 30 yards out that nestled sweetly into the top-corner, leaving the keeper standing in unbelief. A late goal from 21 year-old Guillermo inside the box sealed the scoring in an dominant Athletic performance.


GERNIKA 0-10 ATHLETIC
ADURIZ (x3), MUNIAIN (x3), DE MARCOS (x2), SUSAETA, VIGUERA

Gernika will still be having nightmares about the day that Athletic came to visit. Total and utter dominance humiliated the lower league side as Los Leones hit double figures. Unbelievably it took eight minutes until Aritz Aduriz fired in their opener from close range, and from then they never looked back. The big man up-front bagged another two and claimed his hat-trick. Iker Muniain also grabbed a hat-trick with Óscar De Marcos stealing a brace. Susaeta and Borja Viguera also managed to put there names on the rather large score-sheet. Quique Flores had every right to feel optimistic towards the up and coming season.


PORTUGALETE 0-3 ATHLETIC
SUSAETA (x2), ADURIZ

Not quite double figures, but another good performance followed against another smaller side in Portugalete. Artiz Aduriz grabbed his fourth goal in two games as he calmly placed a shot past the keeper from just inside the box. From then on Athletic kept hold of position incredibly well and left-winger Markel Susaeta grabbed his first after taking on his man and slotting the ball round the keeper. Another Susaeta goal followed and Athletic rounded off their third win on the bounce in pre-season.


ATLETIC 2-0 RM CASTILLA
MUNIAIN, SUSAETA

A fourth win in a row came soon after as Athletic out-played Real Madrid's B side RM Castilla. Iker Muniain scored an early goal when he found space in the box to unleash a shot into the near left-hand corner. Once again Athletic kept hold of the ball and played around Castilla with ease. Markel Susaeta scored yet again after cutting in from the right, however this time he played a one-two with De Marcos before tapping the ball underneath their on-rushing goalkeeper to finish off the scoring, and to finish off an impressive pre-season.


Player of Pre-Season


Óscar De Marcos has had a fantastic pre-season and will most probably be the first person on Quique Flores' team-sheet to face Arsenal in the Champions League Best-Placed Play-Off first leg tie at The Emirates Stadium. The Attacking Midfielder has been the heart of Athletic's offensive play during their friendlies and has dictated the majority of their movement. Wingers Markel Susaeta and Iker Muniain have also impressed.

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Nice Pre-season, I loved Muniain on 14' he'll be a player hard to keep hold of and who Does Marcos think he is?! Didn't think he was capable of goals :))
Great preseason, hopefully that translates into competitive games.
Zap's avatar Group Zap
6 yearsEdited

CHELSEA CLOSE IN ON ATHLETIC STAR ITURRASPE


  • Scouts have been watching him throughout Athletic's pre-season
  • Jose will have to fight off Laurent Blanc's PSG for the midfielder's signature
  • Ander and his agent have visited London and Paris for talks


News has came to light that Athletic Club's highly-rated deep midfielder Ander Iturraspe has been attracting the attention of English giants Chelsea and French super-power Paris Saint Germain. There has not been any official bids made by either club, however Ander has been given permission by Athletic, and their new head-coach Quique Flores, to travel to both clubs for preliminary talks on this possibly large deal. There has been no word from the player himself however his agent Francisco Javier Chinchilla, of whom also works for Xabi Alonso of Bayern Munich and Sergio Ramos of Real Madrid, has stated that Ander would be up for making the move to a larger club if an offer was to come in.

Ander Itturaspe has made appearances in five out of Athletic's six friendlies, a twisted knee keeping him out of their last friendly and potentially causing him to miss the first leg Champions League play-off against Arsenal and their opening league tie against Málaga. However, in the friendlies he played in he has impressed. Ander is a full-blooded midfielder and, if he makes his move to Chelsea, will surely help to tie up their midfield.

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Tough if you end up losing Ander, he's a really good midfielder. Thankfully you do have the likes of Benat to fill in. Great to see Oscar De Marcos playing well, he's my favorite player at Bilbao other than Iker Muniain. Can't wait to see how this season goes, hopefully you start it off well by thrashing Arsenal! ;)
The pressure started to sink in on Athletic Bilbao boss Flores as he saw Iturraspe slipping from his tightly clenched fists. For he knew that this may be the beginning of the end for his team.
Zap's avatar Group Zap
6 yearsEdited

STARLETS HEAD OUT FOR NUMANCIA LOAN

Numancia have announced the signing of two of Athletic's hot young prospects, 21 year-old Striker Guillermo and 18 year-old Midfielder Unai Lopez, on loan until the end of the season.


There has been a lot of hype recently around the potential future of both Unai Lopez and Guillermo and Quique Flores will be hoping that a loan to Numancia will help them on their development. There is no question that both players will be looking to seek out maximum game time whilst in the Liga Adelante and, if they play well, they can prove to their new head coach what they can bring to the club.

Quique Flores has stated ever since he joined Athletic that he wants to use Athletic's impressive facilities to bring through the next generation of young Basque talent. Having already promoted young goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga to the senior team, fans and pundits alike are starting to believe that this really is his priority. Numancia will also be glad that they have acquired these two very skilled youngsters to help them finish as high up the table as they possibly can.

"This move brings the possibility of two young stars to showcase their ability to me," stated a calm and rather relaxed Flores. "I hold a heavy belief that these players, a long with others, have the potential to make it far in the game and I'm hoping they can really use game-time with Numancia to help them with their progression towards our senior team."


Numancia will hope that Guillermo and Unai Lopez will both use their desire to impress their head-coach, to play at the top of their game and help the club push their way up the table.


Guillermo made 9 appearances for Valverde's senior team last season, however he scored just a single senior goal. Aswell as making his senior appearances the youngster had a spell with Bilbao Ath, where he netted 12 times in 20 games. Despite optimism about his future, the 21 year-old will also look after himself well as he has had a few problems with recurring injuries in his past and Athletic will be hoping that this won't come back to haunt him.

Unlike his loan partner, Unai Lopez has never managed to make an appearance for Athletic's senior team. However he made 33 appearances for Bilbao Ath. last season and impressed with his technique. Despite starting his career at major rivals Real Sociedad, Unai was poached from them 4 seasons ago and has never looked back. There are many fans suggesting that Athletic's future lie within this young attacking midfielder.

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Nice loans, both are very talented young players. I hope they do well at Numancia and are ready for first team football next year! :D
Unai Lopez didn't work out very well for me in my save, hope he's better for you
Zap's avatar Group Zap
6 yearsEdited
ARSENAL v ATHLETIC
Play-Off Leg 1


Arsenal
Starting XI - Martínez; Debuchy, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Sánchez, Wilshere, Arteta, Cazorla; Welbeck, Podolski
Bench - Vickers, Chambers, Özil, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Flamini, Bellerín, Giroud

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


The teams of Athletic Bilbao and Arsenal lined up on a breezy night at the Emirates stadium for the first of a two legged tie to decide who shall continue through to the Champions League group stages. Arsenal were favourites to win however Athletic would have always put up a good effort, knowing that they can be just as good as Arsenal on their day. New head coach Quique Flores was also looking to impress his new fans early on in his reign.

Arsenal named a surprise goalkeeper to start this game in third choice Damián Martínez. However the team in-front of him was a full strength team with the likes of Alexis Sánchez, Danny Welbeck and Lukas Podolski running the attack. Athletic key-player and Chelsea transfer target Ander Itturaspe had to miss out on this game after twisting his knee in training the day before.

Arsenal started off brightly, dominating the early parts of the game and Athletic were very happy to drop back and keep them away from goal. For the first half-an-hour Arsenal simply passed around in midfield, however they couldn't find a way to cut through the well-organised Athletic defence. However, Alexis Sánchez brought the game alight when he powered past Balenziaga and took the ball round the on-rushing Iraizoz before tapping the ball into the net to put his side one up.

From the kick-off the game came to life. Athletic new that they had to grab an equalizer soon and Martínez coped well in the Arsenal goal up until Oscar De Marcos won a free-kick just outside the box and slightly to the left of the goal after being took down by a late Mertesacker challenge. Beñat stepped up and curled the ball around the right side of the wall and it slammed into the top of the net before Martinez had time to even move.

The first-half fizzled out as both teams challenged to grab the majority of possession. The second-half started just as the first ended. Oscar De Marcos was having a great game and on the fifty-fifth minute he sent the travelling Basque fans into raptures as he hit home a beautiful volley on the edge of the box after a poor clearing header by Debuchy found it's way to him. De Marcos slightly miss-hit the ball and it bounced and wriggled underneath the goalkeeper to put Bilbao into the lead.

Spaniard Santi Cazorla spoiled the Bilbao party when he found space inside the box to fire a ball past Iraizoz to grab Arsenal's equalizer. It was a lovely passing move from Arsenal who had really not had many chances since Athletic took the lead. The game was then looking as if it was heading for a well fought draw until Lukas Podolski broke Spanish hearts as he blasted home a late winner in stoppage time. Lukas ran into the left-hand side of the box and latched onto a Wilshere ball before slicing it into the far-post, sending the Arsenal fans ecstatic.

Athletic now have it all to do at San Mamés , if they are to reach the group stages. They showed that they can put up a good fight today, however they will need to be a lot better at home if they are to overcome this defeat. They have the quality but will they have the spirit?

"Yes we can sit and think heavily about how unlucky we were to lose such a game so late on," opened a passionate Flores after the game. "They got lucky, that's it. But I'm not going to sit and complain and think 'what if?', that will not help. We need to get back up from that hammer-blow of a late goal and take them back to Bilbao and show them what we can do!"

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tough draw, and me smexy gfx ;)
Please son't sell Iturraspe! Hopefully you can produce a passionate UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE night to get Bilbao through and I have every confidence you can do it. But when I have confidence in someone they usually end up f**king it up. :-X

VIVA, VIVA, VIVA LE ZAP!!!

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