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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
Toddzy: Third is definitely a good place to launch our season on from.
Tallery: Barcelona just too good! Rayo have been decent so far but it's still disappointing because, well, it's Rayo we're talking about...
Justice: Thanks!
Hey Nice work man, keep it up.
Zap's avatar Group Zap
6 yearsEdited

ATHLETIC HIT WITH INJURY BLOW

Athletic have today confirmed that winger Markel Susaeta will be out for up to two months after an injury he sustained during the game against Rayo Vallecano. Markel Susaeta has been a big part of Athletic's season so far and this will be a massive blow to their early season form.

Markel Susaeta had started the season in top form, scoring four goals in Bilbao's opening games. Losing him so early for a lengthy period will be tough on Athletic, especially with their next game being a trip to the Bernabeu to face off with Real Madrid. Markel will also miss out on crucial league games against Sevilla and Valencia aswell as their two Champions League games against German side Schalke, arguably their toughest group opponents.

Head coach Quique Flores has told the press that, despite losing such an important player, he knows that he has full faith that the club will continue to fight at the top. "Markel is a great player and we are devastated with the news," opened Quique who clearly tried to sound positive. "I know that people will think that losing such a player will hit the players, however we have others really pushing to take his place whilst he is out and I believe that they can play to the level Susaeta played if they really push."

How big a blow is this to Athletic?
This will be a big blow to Athletic undoubtedly. Markel started the season incredibly well and was honoured with Bilbao Player of the Month for August, but as Quique says, he will have players pushing to make the spot and they will also be trying to prove that they can keep the spot when Markel comes back from injury. It's just a matter of time to see if the replacements are up to playing at the standard Quique expects.

Who will replace Markel?
It is no surprise that the favourite to start in Susaeta's place is 25 year-old Ibai Gomez. Ibai has primarily played on the left for Athletic, however he has seemed comfortable to play on either wing when he is asked to. Fans are also suggesting that Óscar De Marcos can be moved out onto the wing with 21 year-old Ager Atetxe moving into the number 10 spot. However, we will have to wait for Bilbao's trip to the Bernabeu to see what decision Quique Flores will make.

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Looks good
Ouch, Susaeta is a key player to Bilbao. That will certainly leave big shoes to fill!
Zap's avatar Group Zap
6 yearsEdited
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP STAGE
Part One
Athletic's goal this Champions League will want to qualify from the Group Stage and be in the first Knockout Round and they could not have gotten off to a better start with a win in all three of their first round of fixtures. With eight goals in three games and a three point lead, it seems that Athletic are in for a fun ride this Champions League.

ATHLETIC 2-1 CSKA MOSCOW
SUSAETA, MUNIAIN

Athletic started their Champions League group stage run with a home game against Russian Prem'er Liga champions CSKA Moscow. Coming straight after a defeat to Barcelona, this was the perfect opportunity to bounce back and kick this round off with three points. Bilbao came out the blocks fast and furious, hammering CSKA's defence with attacks. The Russians were holding Athletic back, however you could see a goal coming and in the fifteenth minute the Spaniards grabbed the opener. Susaeta played a one-two with De Marcos to break through the defence and, after latching the returning pass, he slotted it through the keepers legs. Athletic continued to attack CSKA however it took until just after the break until they could double their lead, with Muniain rounding off the keeper and running the ball over the line. With a two goal lead, Bilbao sat back and held onto possession. It all seemed to comfortable until Zoran Tosic brought a goal back for CSKA, however it was too little too late and Athletic held the win.

LUDOGORETS 1-3 ATHLETIC
ADURIZ, LAPORTE, VIGUERA

Their next game was away against the lowest ranked side in the group, Bulgarian champions Ludogorets. Once again Athletic came at their opposition hard from the off and grabbed an early goal through an Aduriz bullet header from a fantastically worked free-kick. In the twenty-seventh minute Athletic were awarded a penalty after Muniain was pulled back inside the box and everyone inside the stadium will have been surprised to see defender Aymeric Laporte step up to the challenge, however he slotted it away into the bottom right corner in a calm and composed manner. Everything seemed to be going too perfect, however a Ludogorets counter-attack close to half-time saw Dani Abalo grab a goal back for the Bulgarians. Ludogorets will have been going into the break knowing one goal would bring them level, however in the second-half it seemed that their fitness was not up to the standard that Bilbao were playing at and Flores' team simply sat on the ball just inside Ludogorets' half. The game was sealed in the last minute as Athletic grabbed their third through reserve striker Borja Viguera. Muniain simply jogged past his full-back and delivered in a whipped ball in which Viguera tapped past the keeper with his left-foot.

SCHALKE 2-3 ATHLETIC
DE MARCOS, ADURIZ, ATETXE

The last of their first round of fixtures was undoubtedly the hardest, with a visit to the Veltins and to German giants Schalke. This being said, a theme had been set through Bilbao's opening games, this being that the basque side seem to start with power and this was no different. An attack straight from kick-off saw Oscar De Marcos take on three players and power the ball past a bemused Fabian Giefer. Nothing much else happened for a while with the score at one-nil and it took until the seventy-third minute when Schalke grabbed an equaliser through Obasi after a slip from Balenziaga let him through on goal. It only takes a minute to fall in love and it also only took a minute for Athletic to respond with another goal straight from kick-off. Muniain took the ball past two Schalke players and hit a beautifly weighted through-ball to Aritz Aduriz and he slotted it past the keeper to put Bilbao back in front. Three minutes later and Athletic grabbed another with a great finish from outside off the box by twenty-one year old Ager Atetxe. Seven minutes after that and Obasi pulled one back again for the Germans to make the last few minutes uneasy for Bilbao, however they pulled through to stay unbeaten so far.

GROUP TABLE

Name: Pts - GD
1. ATHLETIC: 9 - +4
2. CSKA: 6 - +2
3. SCHALKE: 3 - (2)
4. LUDOGORETS: 0 - (4)

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Excellent showing in the Champions League so far! Nice to see the goals are being spread around all of your attackers, much more difficult to defend against that way. Keep it up :)
Really nice update, what I thought was an tough group, has proved a doddle :P
Zap's avatar Group Zap
6 yearsEdited

GRINDING RESULTS: OCTOBER (2014)

Two wins and one defeat in October for Athletic as the La Liga teams start to settle into the season. With two tough games out of the way early on, it seems that Athletic are in for an exciting season. Holding onto third place for two months in a surely proves that they are looking to really challenge under Quique Flores.

REAL MADRID 3-0 ATHLETIC

Just a month after their trip to the Camp Nou, Bilbao were facing a trip to the capital and to the Santiago Bernabéu with most fans happy to see, arguably, the two hardest trips out of the way early on in the season. As the game started you could see that there was a slight change in philosophy from Flores' men as they sat in deep, soaking up pressure from the new galacticos. This seemed to be working as they looked to go into half-time with no goals scored. However, with the last move of the half, welsh superstar Gareth Bale found himself being hauled down inside the box and the referee had no choice but to point to the spot. Real captain Sergio Ramos stepped up and powered the ball into the corner, sending them into the lead one up. This must have been a hammer-blow to Quique's counter-attack plan as Athletic found themselves needing a goal. Second-half saw Athletic push to try and find an equaliser, however they themselves found themselves on the end of a superb counter from the home-team with Gareth Bale finishing off from a superb Modric ball to double Madrid's lead. It was all cleared up on the 80th minute when Gareth Bale found his second and Real's third with a thunderbalt from just outside the box.

ATHLETIC 1-0 CELTA
ADURIZ

Athletic looked to get back to winning ways on home turf when Celta Vigo came to town full of confidence after winning their last three with one against Villareal. However there was only one goal to be had in a rather unexciting game of little chances. The singular came in the eleventh minute when Aritz Aduriz barged past his marker and hammered a header over the keeper from a corner. The rest of the game was generally just a battle for possession in midfield with Athletic seeing the majority of the ball, however they gave it back to Celta too many times for Quique to be overly pleased. But, Athletic won all the points and were back to winning ways as they looked up to the next game.

ALMERIA 1-2 ATHLETIC
GOMEZ, MUNIAIN

A trip to the Estadio de los Jeugos Mediterráneos was up next for Bilbao as they faced off against Almeria. Athletic started brightly, on a day perfect for a game of football, with a few chances being created in the early moments of the game. The injury to Markel Susaeta will have been the unfortunate opportunity that Ibai Gómez must have been looking for, with the winger slotting in to the right to grab some regular first-team action. Ibai Gómez made use of the opportunity this game as he laced in a shot into the bottom corner after a diagonal ball across the pitch was headed down into his path by Aritz Aduriz. This goal sparked a bit of urgency into Almeria and they grabbed a controversial goal through Tomer Hamed tapping the ball past the line from a goal-line scramble. Quique Flores went crazy down on the touchline, as he was adamant that the striker had pulled back Aymeric Laporte to be able to poke the ball. After half-time Athletic really pushed forward and it didn't take long for Iker Muniain to hit his third goal so far this season. A Beñat free-kick from the edge of the box curled around the wall and rattled the post, with Muniain reacting first to push the ball round the keeper. Going behind for the second time in the game clearly killed Almeria as Athletic pushed forward even more, however they could not find their third goal.

LEAGUE TABLE


Name: Pts - GD
1. BARCELONA: 21 - +19
2. VILLAREAL: 20 - +6
3. ATHLETIC: 19 - +5
4. R MADRID: 17 - +7
5. ATLETICO: 17 - +6
6. DEPORTIVO: 16 - +3
7. ESPANYOL: 15 - +7

PLAYER OF THE MONTH

Aritz Aduriz has been awarded player of the month with some fantastic hold-up play contributing to Athletic's wins this month. Starved of any real quality balls against Real, Aritz showed his quality by scoring the winner against Celta and by being a main contributer to Ibai Gomez's great goal against Almeria.

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hahahaha you lost to madrid
Pffft, that Madrid result. Good league position tho
Zap's avatar Group Zap
6 yearsEdited

INCONCISTENCY: NOVEMBER (2014)

Two wins and two defeats isn't what Athletic will have wanted to come out of this month with. Quique's team have played well but they haven't managed to grab that extra goal to secure a victory and that has come back to haunt them a couple of times.

ATHLETIC 4-5 SEVILLA
MUNIAIN, ADURIZ, RICO, AKETXE

In the last two months Athletic have lost their opening game and sadly that was no different this months as the club couldn't pick up any points in a truly enthralling goal-fest at San Mamés against Sevilla. It was clear from early on that this was going to be no ordinary game when Athletic took the lead in the second minute after Muniain went on a run and slotted the ball underneath the opposition keeper. It only took a minute for Sevilla to respond through Carlos Bacca and on the seventh minute they managed to grab another to go in front, this time Marcell Jansen getting a goal. Both teams were attacking this very open game and grabbing chances. A quarter-hour gone and it was once again level at 2-2 with Aduriz powering home after their keeper parried straight back out into the box. Ten minutes later and Sevilla were back in-front through Alejandro Arribas and after that 30 minute flurry of goals, Sevilla sat back and went into the lead in-front. The game started after half-time as quietly as it started, however in the 80th minute Aurtenetxe brought Carlos Bacca down inside the box and gave Sevilla a chance to go two up, a chance which Grzegorz Krychowiak took calmly. Three minutes later and Mikel Rico brought a goal back for Athletic with a back-post header from a corner. In the last minute of normal time it seemed that Athletic had grasped themselves a point with a very late equaliser through young Ager Aketxe. However a counter-attack from Sevilla found it's way to Carlos Bacca inside the box who was once again brought down, this time by captain Gurpegi. Krychowiak put away his second penalty and Sevilla ran off with all the points.

VALENCIA 1-3 ATHLETIC
DE MARCOS, IRAOLA, MUNIAIN

They may have lost their third month-opening game in a row, however each time they had lost at the start of the month they have won the game after and this run has also continued. A game against Valencia at the Mestalla is usually a tough game, however Athletic made it look easy with a comfortable victory. Things really didn't start well for Valencia when Shkodran Mustafi was shown a straight red card for a two-footed challenge Ibai Gómez. Athletic looked comfortable from then on and looked the home team as they pressed 10-men Valencia back. Oscar De Marcos struck first after a well-executed move fell to him inside the box and he neatly lifted the ball into the top left-hand corner of the net leaving Yoel, in place of the injured Diego Alves, rooted to his spot. Close to half-time and another nice piece of play from Athletic landed to Oscar De Marcos, this time he was just outside the box and thread a lovely through ball into the box and Iker Muniain cut inside to latch onto the end of it. As he did João Pereira tugged him back and the pair went down, the referee awarded a penatly to Athletic. Iraola had to wait a while on the spot ready to take it as João Pereira had fell awkwardly after pulling Muniain back and needed treatment, however Andoni calmly waited and confidently dispatched the ball down the right. 70 minutes gone and Negrado brought Valencia hopes back-up with a wonderful volley after Gurpegi didn't get enough power on a clearing header. Despite this Athletic pushed on and the game was safe on the 85th minute when Iker Muniain found himself clear on goal, he rounded the keeper and ran the ball into the net and grabbed the goal he deserved.

ATHLETIC 3-2 ESPANYOL
ADURIZ, BALENZIAGA, CASILLA (og)

After a week break, and a trip to South America which saw Athletic run-out 6-2 winners in a friendly against Argentinian side San Lorenzo, Quique's side lined up against Espanyol at home. The game started slowly until the 30th minute when Athletic managed to grab two goals in five minutes. The first of the goals came through striker Aritz Aduriz after a lovely, deep cross from Iker Muniain whipped in-front of him and the big Spaniard bounced the ball past the keeper. The second was a little more... different. Athletic hit a corner close to Espanyol keeper Kiko Casilla and he went to punch it away from the goal, however he tumbled over his own player and slapped the ball into his own-net. After this bizarre goal, things settled down until well after half-time and the game suddenly sprung back into life with a nice counter-attack from Espanyol. Felipe Caicedo managed to turn Aymeric Laporte, however as he ran off Laporte kicked out at Felipe and the Ecuador striker was sent flying. The referee was given no option but to send Laporte off and Espanyol managed to grab a goal soon after with Sergio Garcia bringing the Barcelona team back into contention. A very crucial goal came late on for Athletic from an unlikely source. Mikel Belenziaga darted up the left wing and took a pass from De Marcos inside the box and pumped it into the far corner. This put Bilbao two goals up and meant that Athletic came away with all three points despite a late goal from Sergio Garcia. This may have been a lucky win for Athletic, however this may be a crucial three points.

GETAFE 3-2 ATHLETIC
ADURIZ (x2)

Athletic couldn't manage to round the month of with a win as they fell to two late goals from Getafe. This was a game they were unlucky to lose, however a couple of bad balls out of the defence show the importance of Aymeric Laporte who was suspended after his red against Espanyol. Neither team started well and the game was full of long-balls going straight to the keeper until the 40th minute when Aritz Aduriz managed to bring one down and volley the ball past the keeper to put Bilbao into the lead at half-time. Markel Susaeta was introduced off the bench during the break to mark his return from injury. The game came to life in the second-half as Getafe pushed for an equaliser. They very nearly did as Croat Sammir managed to get a good connection on the ball from outside the box and his shot was destined to fly into the top corner until young goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga managed to fly to the ball and hold it. From this he threw the ball up the pitch to Susaeta, who ran half the pitch with it. He then crossed the ball over to Aduriz who headed the ball low and hard into the bottom left-hand corner. This goal seemed to spark Getafe into action and soon after they managed to grab a goal back through Emiliano Velázquez in the 65th minute. Coming into stoppage time and Athletic were sat back soaking up pressure until two moments of inspiration from 23 year-old Álvaro Vázquez saw Getafe grab an equaliser and then, very late on, a winner to crush Athletic's day.

LEAGUE TABLE


Name: Pts - GD
1. BARCELONA: 30 - +29
2. VILLAREAL: 30 - +14
3. R MADRID: 29 - +19
4. ATLETICO: 29 - +16
5. ATHLETIC: 25 - +6
6. DEPORTIVO: 23 - +4
7. CELTA VIGO: 20 - 0

PLAYER OF THE MONTH

Iker Muniain is possibly Athletic's most prized possession and the 21 year-old has been proving that he can live up to the hype surrounding him. With a couple of goals to add to his wonderful play this month, it is quite clear why he has this award.

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Needless losses to Sevilla and Getafe. Your attack is doing just fine but your defence needs a stability, as soon as possible. Get Laporte in-form! ;)
You're doing well in the league, just need to get a grip on the games because too many goals for either side will ultimately see your team lose points!
GETAFE ME CHOCOLATES, Good luck

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