Athletic Club – Sevilla: Ageless Ever Banega Guides Sevilla Past Athletic (1-2)
A fortuitous early goal for Athletic Club provided a false sense of security, which led to the home side retreating deeper into their defensive shape. After a savvy change of shape and deft use of substitutes, Sevilla were able to capitalize on their opponent’s complacency and snatch a much-needed victory away from home.
Tactical analysis and match report by K.T. Stockwell.
A narrow 1-0 loss to Real Madrid over the weekend marked the end of a two-match winning streak for Athletic Club. Gaizka Garitano has helped re-establish a culture of intense, defense-first, counterattacking football and in doing so rescued the Basque giant from relegation last season, while encouraging them to the precipice of European football with four matches remaining in the 2019/20 campaign.
At the center of the turnaround has been an ever-present 4-4-2 formation, which was on display once again against Sevilla. Few changes were made to the starting eleven that featured against Real, with Unai Núñez stepping in for the injured Yeray Álvarez at center-back, Mikel Vesga dropping into midfield and youngster Oihan Sancet getting the start up top alongside Iñaki Williams.
Sevilla have yet to lose since the restart and as a consequence maintain a three-point lead over Villarreal for the final Champions League spot. Manager Julen Lopetegui’s side has often struggled to generate chances - their recent 1-0 victory over Eibar a prime example. However, the club’s defensive solidity has been noteworthy and made the Andalusian . . .