Athletic Club – Real Madrid: Real Madrid Must Suffer In Return to Winning Ways (0-2)
It was a game of phases, with both sides taking control and putting their opponents on the backfoot. In the end, Real Madrid took their chances whilst Athletic Club once again lacked the clinicality to compete with the best in LaLiga.
Tactical analysis and match report by Charlie Tuley
Since starting off the 2022/2023 campaign in brilliant fashion (five wins from their first seven matches), they have begun to peter out. Ernesto Valverde’s side has not won a match in LaLiga since before the World Cup break, though they have managed to make it to the quarter finals of the Copa del Rey after beating Espanyol 1-0 in the midweek. The Basque side seem to be experiencing the same post-World Cup fatigue that most other squads are and it is really costing them in the hunt for European football.
Valverde was without center-backs Iñigo Martínez (injured) and Yeray Álvarez (suspended) for the match against Real Madrid, forcing him to use both of his rotational central defenders in the heart of defense. Aitor Paredes and Dan Vivian filled in the center-back roles ahead of Unai Simón, flanked by Óscar De Marcos and Yuri Berchiche. Oier Zarraga and Mikel Vesga made up Valverde’s double pivot in midfield, with Nico Williams, Oihan Sancet, and Álex Berenguer ahead of them. Iñaki Williams led the line for the hosts.
Real Madrid were coming off of a potentially season-changing win over Villarreal in the Copa del Rey, coming from two goals down to advance to the final eight of the competition. Carlo Ancelotti’s men had been in a slump prior to the match against Villarral, having lost to . . .