Athletic Club – Atlético Madrid: Balanced Structures, Balanced Outcome (1-1)
Athletic Club and Atlético Madrid present striking similarities both in appearance and in tactics. The Red and White home kits and the layout of the club crests reveal their common roots, and their physical presences and effective defensive blocks show a comparable tactical identity. Both team’s well-structured work off the ball kept the shot count to a minimum, the number of passes similar and the overall intensity high.
Tactical analysis and match report by Joel Parker.
When first appointed, Gaizka Garitano took Bilbao back to their roots, with an emphasis on an organized defensive block, balanced between an intense press and dropping deep, while counterattacking with sheer efficiency. This dragged Athletic Club out of danger to finish mid table last season, but a poor attack has stagnated progression up the table.
Bilbao remain fixated on long, direct balls forward, without utilizing their creative players in the midfield. Although they remained eight points from sixth position prior to this fixture, a chance to feature in next season’s Europa League is certainly not out of the question if Bilbao build strong, post-lockdown form.
One team that will not want to endure a season in Europe’s second competition is Atlético Madrid. After the significant spend last summer, failure to finish inside LaLiga’s top four will undoubtedly be one of the biggest talking points across the football globe.
However, this is not to say Atléti have had a poor season. Just four teams have defeated Diego Simeone’s team in the league and no team has come close to the levels of underperformance in their attacking numbers . . .