Athletic Club – Real Sociedad: Athletic Impose Physical, Direct Style of Play On Soft Real Sociedad (2-0)

In a Basque Derby between two opposing styles of play, Athletic forced a technical, possession-based Real Sociedad side into playing long balls, causing aerial duels and fighting over second balls, which is exactly the game Athletic wanted. Despite Real’s substitutions and tactical changes to adapt to this tactical context and become more direct, Athletic still dominated the entire game, reducing Real to only two shots.

Tactical analysis and match report by José Pérez

It is only Matchday 3 in LaLiga, but it is already time for another face-off between the two great powers of the Basque Country. Real Sociedad and Athletic fans are quite civil off the pitch, mingling in bars pre-game and walking together to the stadium, but the rivalry is quite intense on the pitch. And this time around, it is a battle between two contrasting styles of play.

After a quiet summer in the transfer market, Athletic coach Gaizka Garitano has decided to keep using the simple but effective counterattacking game plan that worked so well last season. Athletic are an intense and organized 4-4-2 team off the ball, capable of both pressing high and defending the box well. In attack, they take on a 4-2-3-1 / 4-2-4 shape, relying on wing play for ball progression as well as counterattacks that utilize the fast and intelligent runs of striker Iñaki Williams. 

Real Sociedad, on the other hand, moved more actively than their regional rivals during the summer, signing playmaker Martin Ødegaard . . .

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Jose Perez (27) writes and talks about anything football-related: players, tactics, analytics, the relationship between football and society. Whenever he is not working on high-power lasers, he tries to keep up with all big five European leagues, but focuses particularly on La Liga. Outside of Between the Posts, you can find him arguing with people and posting analyses on Twitter or answering questions on Quora. [ View all posts ]

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