Match Recap: Real Madrid v Athletic Bilbao

18 Mar
Yep, me too Marcelo

Yep, me too Marcelo

Well… It wasn’t good, was it? Good is the food in the Basque region. This was more like the weather on the first two days Lozil and I were in San Sebastian; a mess.

I do apologize for the lateness of this post. I had an exceptionally busy two weeks which I was stressing about horribly. I do have to thank Lozil, Mandi, FABOD, Zito, Cap, and my favorite fanboy for a giant amount of support leading up to that week (It’s going to take another week or so for me to reveal my secret, but I will).

I was in New Jersey during the week before this match and decided I was going to head to NYC to watch the match with Lozil and closet watishisto A-Rock, who is a part of my not-so-secret Arsenal harem. Poor A-Rock had to put up with a very upset couple of watishistas.

So, moving on…

Bilbao are not an easy match. San Mames is not an easy stadium to play at. It is also brand new and quite amazing. Very well done on the new stadium!

The bright side, going in, was that we’d beat them 5-0 at the Bernabeu. If only we’d had it in us again.

“What is my life?”

“I called the Avengers. They said I’m on my own.”

“Who needs Tony Stark when you have The Dark Invader?”

Lineups:

Athletic Bilbao: Gorka Iraizoz; Andoni Iraola, Carlos Gurpegi, Xabi Etxeita, Mikel Balenziaga; Beñat, Mikel Rico, Oscar de Marcos; Iker Muniain, Aritz Aduriz, Iñaki Williams

Real Madrid: Iker Casillas; Dani Carvajal, Pepe, Raphael Varane, Marcelo; Isco, Toni Kroos, Illarra; Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema

Real Madrid startersIn the tunnel, Marcelo taught both Lucas Silva and Keylor Navas his secret handshake. I’m gonna need to learn this. If for no reason other than to be annoying to most of my friends (it’s just how I roll).

Bilbao began pressing immediately after kick off. The atmosphere of their fans was incredible and it was lifting them nicely. Well, nicely for them. It was not good for us.

They had their first half chance in the 3rd minute and our first real spark of the ball was to have Benzema be called for offside in the 5th minute.

In the 9th minute, Pepe conceded a corner and Iker was in to collect it. We began to move forward and Kroos won a ball in the middle but was clattered into. It earned a freekick, about the only thing anyone had earned in the midfield to that point. We just looked like we didn’t care.

The 13th minute had some good passes between Dani and Illarra but Benzema’s shot was blocked by Etxeita. It was slow, but we were starting to apply some pressure and we were getting a little excited in Brooklyn. But Bilbao continued to be dangerous when they had possession and in the 26th minute the Bilbao goal came.

To be honest, it was a beautiful header by Aduriz. The cross had come from Rico and Aduriz met it so well.

Kroos was booked in the 30th minute for what I think was a retaliation “tackle” on Iraola. Aduriz earned a yellow at the same time for his reaction to the incident. I remember mentioning to Lozil that I hoped things didn’t get too feisty. We get very upset when we’re being pushed around.

Feisty Kroos surprises me sometimes. But I think it’s the Jeremy Renner action hero in him.

We started keeping possession of the ball but we either couldn’t find the pass in the final third or we couldn’t finish. Mostly it was that we weren’t even attempting to take shots because Bilbao were defending excellently.

“What? What’s going on?”

In the 39th minute, Etxeita was booked for a challenge on Cris. And in response, Illarra was booked in the 41st minute for a bad tackle on itty bitty Iker Muniain.

I got a bit excited in the 44th minute, once again, as Bale got the ball and attempted to put a loss cross in. It was blocked, however, and the attack broke down.

It got strange in stoppage time when Marcelo did some excellent work, getting the ball into Benz. But instead of shooting, Benz tried to cross it and the half ended with us down by a goal.

Second Half:

In Brooklyn, we hoped that we were the typical “second half team” that we can be at times. Neither manager made any changes. And things were slow for the first couple of minutes of the half.

We had an amazing chance in the 49th minute, but when Cris put the cross in to Benz, Balenziaga was somehow across to make the challenge and cut it out. Then Marcelo linked with Gareth but Cris couldn’t get on the end of the ball that our poor Welshman put in.

Bilbao managed to deal with the pressure we put on rather well and even launched an attack of their own when Bale made a poor pass and Aduriz got to it.

Our next real chance was in the 61st minute. Benzema was one-on-one with the keeper, but couldn’t put it past him. Damn!

Bilbao made the first change of the match in the 64th minute bringing in Susaeta for Muniain.

We were OH SO CLOSE! to getting a goal from The Baby in the 71st minute. His header from a corner was just wide!

Our first sub came in the same minute and it was very positive. Jese came in for Illarra. And then, two minutes later Ronaldo was blocked well by Iraizoz.

Isco earned a yellow in the 74th minute and Bilbao brought in Guillermo to replace Williams for their second change of the match.

In the 76th minute I think I almost died as Aduriz met another ball with his head but this time it (somehow) came off the post and he was denied by Iker’s best friend.

Kroos was replaced by Silva in the 76th minute. He needs it. He’s close to yellow card accumulation and he’s played ever minute of every match. He’s probably tired as hell.

We earned a freekick wide of the box in the 78th minute but nothing came of it and Benzema was replaced by Chicharito in the 80th minute.

We had an absolute howler of a chance that surprised all three of us sitting in the pub together. Bale hit a scorcher from about 45 yard out that hit the post and Chicharito just couldn’t get to the rebound. It was devastating because it would have been a hell of a goal and it was our best chance.

Marcelo received a yellow card in the 87th minute as the game was winding down. We were trying to push forward but Bilbao was controlling too much of the possession for us to have any real chances.

After 3 minutes of added time, that was it. We fell to Bilbao at San Mames.

Match Photos:

Post Match Comments:

Ancelotti post matchAncelotti:

“We pushed forward in the second half and were constantly in their half”, added the Italian.

Carlo Ancelotti analysed the game against Athletic in the San Mamés press room: “As always, I have to take a lot of the blame. There are some managers who disassociate themselves from their team if they do not play well. This is my team, they are not playing well and in this regard I am entirely responsible”.

“I am not going to give in because the truth is that the league is going to get more difficult, but it is not over yet and we are going to fight to fix the situation quickly. We can look for a solution with the quality we have”.

Analysis of the game
“It was an even match. Athletic defended well, they were compact and used the counterattack. They scored and the game turned out well for them. We really pushed forward in the second half, we were constantly in their half. This is not a fitness issue, it is about having a clearer approach in attack. It is not working well at the moment. The team gave away the game, not 45 minutes, because we lost. Athletic scored in the first half and we were unable to get an equaliser in the second half”.

Errors in attack
“There is no link-up play, our play is too based around individual play, we need another way of attacking, with faster play and fewer touches. It is quite confusing to see what we’re doing at the moment in attack. The ball doesn’t move around quickly”.

“Our problem is mostly to do with attacking, we are not finding the same attacking solutions as we did previously. In the last few games we have just scored from penalties. That is the problem that we need to fix. We are lacking a little effectiveness up front”.

Explanation
“The attacking game is a question of timing. The time taken to pass and get away from markers. The passes are not arriving because we take too many touches on the ball. It is a combination of the time between passing and getting away from the defender that is not working”.

Changes
“Firstly, I was hoping to freshen up the team and use Jesé and Bale on the wings in order to have more space. Kroos had a card and I did not want to play with 10 men. The same with Illarra”.

Attitude 
“It isn’t about attitudes. I see the problem in our attack and that is what we have to fix. Our attitude is good. We all know that every game is very important at this stage. It isn’t a lack of attitude, it is a lack of technique”.

The changing room
“The atmosphere and motivation of the players is under control. We do not need to look for anything else. The team is compact and focused on the targets that we have to keep fighting for. We have to fix the problems quickly. It sounds strange to say that Real Madrid has attacking problems when we have scored so many goals this season, but it is the truth”. 

The BBC
“It is not an individual problem. The three of them did not have a good game but it is not an error on their part. The entire team has to take responsibility when we attack, not just the forwards”.

Isco post matchIsco:

Isco spoke to the press following the defeat in San Mamés and admitted the team were affected by the result: “We leave here with a bad feeling in our stomachs because this is now two straight games without picking up three points and that is a real shame. Lately we have been lacking a bit of freshness up front and that is not normal for Real Madrid, but it is a matter of phases. Things aren’t going that well now but that’s certain to change”.

“We are lacking that killer pass and need to be more accurate. We’ve had that throughout the La Liga campaign but we’ve lacked precision in the last two games, but we’ll get back on track in terms of results and playing well”.

La Liga
“It’s tough. It was tough when we had a four-point lead and it is equally difficult now as it is a very long competition and there are a lot of matches. We have to travel to the Camp Nou and we will be full of confidence ahead of that trip. I ask the fans to believe in us because we are the same players who have won many titles”.

Fitness
“I think the team are in good shape physically, there is no need to make excuses. We have to work and give it our all in each of the remaining games because the La Liga title is within our reach and we are still the league leaders depending on how Barcelona get on”.

“The team’s heads are down after not winning either of the last two games but we remain as confident as ever that we can change this situation. La Liga, as the manager says, will be decided on the last matchday”.

Message of calm
“Teams go through ups and downs and we still depend on ourselves to turn this situation around. We will work hard to get back on track. The fans should stay calm because we are the same team that won the Club World Cup and the Super Cup”.

Varane:

“We will fight right till the end”
“We are not enjoying our best moment of form at the moment. We are lacking in a few small things. They are little details that end up costing you dearly. We need to be more united than ever, continue working and stay positive. Nothing has been decided yet, we are going to fight until the end like we know how to because the upcoming weeks are going to be decisive”.

“We are lacking that pass that can damage opponents. The attitude is good, we have to keep fighting and with that good attitude things will improve. We know the match in the Camp Nou will be very important and we will prepare well for it, but before that we have to win against Schalke and Levante”.

Still, in good times and in bad…

¡Hala Madrid!

-mygypsyspirit

(images and gifs courtesy of GF Sports, the-vip-football-collection, football-hqs, and realmadrid.com)

2 Responses to “Match Recap: Real Madrid v Athletic Bilbao”

  1. futbolfan March 18, 2015 at 9:13 pm #

    No need to apologize for being late. I’m honestly surprised you’d even subject yourself to re experience the pain of matches like this anyway, lol

  2. Mandy March 19, 2015 at 8:23 pm #

    Kroos’ outbursts are a surprise to you? He’s got a mouth on him. I remember watching him with Bayern and he mouthed off there even more. With the language barrier, he’s kept it down a bit, and usually castrates the referee. But no doubt, he’s a sass mouth.

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