Athletic Club – Real Madrid: Eduardo Berizzo’s Intense Defensive System Rattles Real Madrid (1-1)

Athletic Bilbao burst out of the gates with a high-octane press that unsettled Real Madrid’s seasoned technicians and raised the game to a frightening tempo. Julen Lopetegui embraced the chaos in the second half by bringing on Casemiro, Isco and Lucas Vázquez, but it only proved enough to salvage a 1-1 draw.

Real Madrid arrived in Bilbao with a starting eleven full of first team regulars. The one exception was Dani Ceballos, who got the nod ahead of Casemiro in order to rest him after he played heavy minutes in the international break for Brazil. This pushed Toni Kroos into a defensive midfield role behind the aforementioned Ceballos and the recently crowned UEFA Player of the Year Luka Modrić.

Eduardo Berizzo took the game just as seriously as his counterpart Julen Lopetegui and managed to select a strong lineup despite missing three players due to injury: goalkeeper Iago Herrerín, who was replaced by the 21-year-old Unai Simón, and fullbacks Mikel Balenziaga and Iñigo Lekue, who were succeeded by Yuri Berchiche and Óscar de Marcos respectively. These players, along with the rest of their teammates, lined up in what was a 4-2-3-1 in theory.

Raúl García played as the number ‘ten’ behind striker Inaki Williams and was flanked by wingers Markel Susaeta and Iker Muniain. Behind them sat Beñat Etxebarria and Dani García in a double-pivot, who protected a back four consisting of fullbacks Óscar de Marcos and Yuri and center backs Yeray Álvarez and Íñigo Martínez.

Athletic Club's high press versus Real Madrid's build-up.

Athletic’s . . .

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Om Arvind (21) is a massive Real Madrid fan who works as a Managing Editor for When not watching and writing about his beloved Los Blancos and contributing to Between the Posts, he spends his time crafting video analyses for the youtube channel The School of Real Madrid. He adores deep-lying playmakers, something that was molded by his time watching the likes of Xabi Alonso. [ View all posts ]


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