Athletic Club – Real Sociedad: A handicapped Real Sociedad ruthlessly punishes the mistakes of an intense but predictable Athletic
The Basque Derby at the San Mamés Stadium was surprisingly won by Real Sociedad, who missed almost a third of their squad due to injuries and suspensions. Their defensive approach turned Athletic’s attacks into a predictable and easily defended festival of crosses into the box.
The Basque Derby remains curiously calm off the pitch, with fans of Athletic and Real Sociedad mingling with each other in bars before walking together to the stadium. On the pitch, however, the rivalry is as intense as in any other derby, and yesterday’s face-off was no exception.
New Athletic manager Eduardo Berizzo has quickly gotten his team’s Bielsa-esque pressing system up and running, as well as built an offensive system around star playmaker Iker Muniain. However, this promising project has faced brutal early testing, four of their first six league matches being against last year’s top six sides—Real Madrid, Real Betis, Barcelona, and Villarreal. While fans shouldn’t be too worried that their team only won one of those first six games (1W-4D-1L), they certainly hoped to get a good result against their local rivals.
Real Sociedad also has a new manager in Asier Garitano, who is moving the team from their previous possession system to something more focused on defense and counterattack. The team is getting better at defensive focus and intensity as well as setting pressing traps—as their
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