La Liga: Athletic Bilbao 3 – 0 Atlético

Exciting match decided by Athletic in second half

Llorente leaves Assunção behind(

Llorente leaves Assunção behind

With three goals in quick succession, Athletic Bilbao beat Atlético on their Basque home ground.

The visitors rued their missed chances from the first half, but had to conclude that they were beaten fair and square by a motivated Bilbao side.

Gregorio Manzano put out what seems to be Atlético’s strongest XI, with Reyes and Gabi returning to the starting line-up.

In defence, the coach opted for Álvaro Domínguez, but the centre back was replaced by Diego Godín after apparently picking up an injury during the warm-up.

The game in the Cathedral of Spanish football was a great one for neutral fans, with both sides not holding back to get an early lead.

Atlético, and Filipe particularly, were lucky not to concede when the Brazilian left back slipped up on the edge of the box. Markel Susaeta was through on goal before losing the ball to Godín, who bungled the winger over from behind, just carefully enough not to concede a penalty kick.

At the other end Reyes fired a warning shot, while Fernando Llorente saw his shot blocked by Miranda.

The biggest opportunities in the opening period were for Atleti, with Falcao coming very close to scoring and Filipe shooting just wide.

The teams were unable to string multiple passes together, with both sides pressuring aggressively in midfield. Referee Teixeira Vitienes allowed most challenges, which stimulated the spectacularly high pace of the game.

Shortly before the break Thibaut Courtois made a great save to deny Óscar De Marcos in a 1-on-1 situation. The level-headed 19-year-old made a calm impression in the hostile environment of the San Mamés-stadium.

At the start of the second half Athletic pushed Atleti with their backs against the wall and Marcelo Bielsa showed attacking intent by bringing on Ánder Herrera for defensive midfielder Javi Martínez.

A cross swung in from the left side by Aurtenetxe was headed wide by De Marcos, who kept popping up in front of goal without anyone to mark him.

In the 67th minute the Lion King, Fernando Llorente, scored the goal the home side deserved. He received the ball inside the box and avoided Assunção’s challenge, before toe-poking the ball past Courtois. The goalkeeper was without a chance after the shot took a deflection from Filipe.

Llorente then crushed Atlético’s hope of a comeback by immediately scoring a second. He was completely unchallenged when a cross came in from the right, and the number 9 headed home from close range to make it 2-0.

The nightmare wasn’t quite over for the Colchoneros yet. Substitute Gaizka Toquero scored his side’s third within ten minutes by flicking on Herrera’s inviting free kick.

Diego attempted to strike back, but his low shot was well saved by Iraizoz.

After the defeat in Bilbao, it has now been seven games since Atlético last won, while the team still haven’t managed to score a single goal in an away game in the league this season.

The result raises doubts about Gregorio Manzano’s future at the club. The coach will also have to deal with José Antonio Reyes, who was visibly frustrated after being taken off by ‘Goyo’.

The only thing that can prevent a crisis is a win our next league game. On Sunday, we host Real Zaragoza in what might be Manzano’s last game in charge.

Line-up: Courtois; Sílvio, Miranda, Godín, Filipe; Gabi, Assunção, Diego (“81 Koke); Reyes (“58 Salvio), Falcao and Arda Turan (“72 Pizzi).

Goals: 1-0 Llorente (“67); 2-0 Llorente (“71); 3-0 Toquero (“75)

  • javi


  • ratchet

    bye-bye manzano

  • ratchet

    seriously though, last year was a rubbish season, but it just shows how much worse weve got. we won this match 2-1 last year and now we lose 3-0. Personly i think we are way of champions league, even europa league at the monent. Have to beat zaragoza or we are in real trouble

  • 92

    Well, for one part I would not like Manzano to go and end the “new project” but sadly things seems that are not gonna improve if he stays, today’s match was to see if Manzo could revert things, and sadly I didn’t saw any improvement, we had a decent first half starting with Luis Filipe’s chance that was nor a shot on goal or a pass, I think that Filipe could have approched the goal and take a shot, instead he made a wrong pass, the Filipe before his horrible injury would have scored, but of of course his very hard to recover from such an injury although i’m not whatsoever blaming Filipe for the lost, and the second hald was disastrous, Miranda and Assuncao were awful, the three goals conceded we’re Miranda’s fault, his marking was weak he allowed Llorente and Toquero to make the headers and in the first goal Assuncao got owned by Llorente, with that said for those of you who said we have a strong defense we actually don’t, I don’t understand why Manzano changed the back line by sending Dominguez to the bench if at least in the last games we had some clean sheets it makes no sense, but we win as a team and lose as a team.

  • 7th

    hope he goes, even if we win.

    that was terrible performances,

    while koke, always makes me excited when watching him.

    it is clearly manzano doesnt like young players.

  • 92

    Two more things; Koke needs to be a starter because he has really work his socks off also the 4-3-3 formation in my opinion seems is not gonna work in order to help Falcao score goals, I think we should play a 4-2-3-1 formation with 2 defensive pivots Mario and Gabi or Koke or vice versa, with Diego as our creative attacking midfielder Turan on the left, Reyes or Salvio (who I think was one the few salvageable players from our side to acknowledge), and of course Falcao as our lone striker, this is the formation Levante uses and is giving them awesome results and I think that it would help us create more chances for Falcao and have a stronger midfield.
    We are gonna need a new coach because obviously Manzano is not gonna finish the season, Javi mentioned Rafa Benitez, I think he would be a good option because he gives young players chances and he likes to play attractive football, the problem is as Urban said, it would mean a risk for Benitez because of his last term as Inter coach also another issue with Benitez is his Real Madrid past, (although he is a professional to the full extent and his Vikingo past would not really be a problem), personally I would prefer a coach identified with Atleti’s history but I don’t dislike the idea of Benitez at all.

  • Is anyone ever considering Radomir Antić to make a possible return to the Calderon? He was successful with Atléti in his past, so? What do you people think?

  • Javi

    @92 apparently Dominguez got injured during warm ups so he was taken out

  • 92

    Hopefully Dominguez injury is not that serious, because I think he is one of the best CB’s we have.

  • Matt

    really really disappointing. for all who say we have to win vs. zara to not get into trouble … wrong! we already are so deep in it …

  • 92

    @Stefan, Antic sounds good to me because of his past with Atleti but he had mixed success, keep in mind Atleti was relegated with Antic as a coach, also it’s been a long a time since he left of the spanish football environment although I’m not sure if he has been keeping track of it, I suppose he hasn’t.
    I assume that at this point everyone has found about Schuster possible interest in leading Atleti, he even says his coaching style would be perfect for Atleti, and I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea in having Schuster as our coach because he knows the Spanish environment and his statistics as a coach are quite decent, also he was a former Atleti player although he hasn’t been involved with Atleti ever since he left off.

  • AtletienPhila

    Something has to changed. And, no, I don’t want more line-ups rotations.

    + I think it is clear that Suarez, Gabi, Assuanco, and Tiago have been very mediocre and have done so little to create scoring chances.

    Pizzi and Salvio have added a spark of energy, but for some reason this has not been enough.

    + Turan and Falcao are clearly talented, but something is lacking.

    + I could do without Reyes. He seems to only perform well with QSF. It is bizarre.

    + Koke, please. Try the kid.

    Just very disappointing and nothing has changed.

  • Javi

    I think the problem we have is our midfield
    Once we get it out of the defense we don’t know how to hook up and structure plays to give our forwards and the guys that feed the forwards-Diego and Arda-an opportunity to do anything. It’s complete chaos and the individual talent cannot overcome this. This is a coaching failure-not knowing how to use what we have. It feels like the team is just starting to play with each other, like in july; they dont know where to be, what to expect, how to move, its disaster and a failure. I lost faith and patience, I see no progress and I would make a move now.

  • 92

    Javi, what move do you think would be appropiate for our current tumultuos situation.

  • Javi

    Unfortunately I think Manzano cannot lead these players and they have lost his respect and faith in him. Reyes showed this when he was raken off today A new coach immediately. We need someone the players will respect from the outset and I don’t think it’s shuster, maybe Benitez, aragones or someone with strong character
    Maybe we don’t need players with a good coach, we have a lot of talent but we cannot make it work. If new players are needed its a couple of midfielders, a defensive one like Lass Diarra and an offensive one like Borja Valero to replace one or two of tiago, Suarez, assuncao etc. and e need to integrate koke and other canteranos-the things we all say here. But we can’t wait any more or well be in last place.

  • 92

    That’s a good point and I agree, perhaps Manzano character can’t handle Atleti’s big pressure and the dressing room also. About the possible coaches specifically Schuster I think he does has a strong character, remember that he won La Liga with Madrid, and Madrid has had always players with big egos and Schuster managed to handle the pressure coaching Madrid represents.
    You mentioned Aragones and “Zapatones” does has a strong character not to mention he is an Atleti legend and was the man behind the success of the Spanish team, and certainly I think he would be a great option.
    About the players we need, just heard Lass Diarra was allowed to negotiate for a move away from Madrid and hewould be a good option except he plays for Madrid (I think is important to sparkle and nourish the Madrid Derby in a healthy way of course, with no violence, but I wouldn’t mind the idea of Lass), I was thinking of Iborra from Levante, he is a midfielder and can also play as forward,he would be a good reinforcement, he would also be an adviser and mentor for Koke and the canteranos, to help them improve, I personally think he would really help us improve.

  • Gert

    We used to be one of the best (if not the best) counter attacking team in La Liga… Now, whenever we break the attack of the opponent, we get stuck around the middle circle… Yesterday it happened at least 5 times that Diego went for a run forward through the middle, and then stopped running. (to wait for the rest of the team?)

    Falcao is standing there alone as a lone striker. Giving the ball to him outside the box is useless. He seems to be nervous whenever he gets the ball outside the box and has difficulties controlling the ball. He needs a companion up front. All La Liga teams know they have to mark him with 2-3 men. If we put a second striker next to him, we make it more difficult for the other team’s defense. Everyone knows how we’re playing. Possession -> ball to Falcao. We’re not using the flanks enough. Yesterday towards the end, Silvio got past the LB of Athletic and he just had no clue who to pass the ball to.

    A lot of credit goes out to Diego and Arda yesterday. Especially in the first half. Our defense was good in the first half but when we conceded, everyone seemed to let their heads hang! That’s the wrong mentality! We need to fight more! Play higher and deeper!

    Still can’t believe it!

  • JohnGreece

    Yes,the biggest problem we have is our players and the positions they play.From the beggining i knew that if we wanted to do something better from now on,we simply had to trust the management of the team on an expierienced and well-known coach.The midfielders move at least 30 meters behind Falcao,we are vulnerable in counter attacks,no game plan.THE PROBLEM IS GREGORIO MANZANO and something must be done before we start challenging for the bottom places.

  • javi

    @92, aragones has a lot of character and a pair of big ones, just remember how he was critized when he led the national team to the Euo 2008 because he didnt use raul, if that is not character I dont know what is. Shuster did win with Madrid and like you say handling those egos takes talent, but somehow personality wise I see more fire in Luis.
    Good point from JohnGreece and Gert.
    I think it all comes down to our coach and his lack of good strategy, we have good players.

  • davie

    poor run of results! another website claimed the players and management had an emergency meeting today to discuss the current situation. about the midfield does anyone know how Rubén Micael is getting on at zaragoza is he any good

  • 92

    @javi you misunderstood me, I just said that he indeed has strong character and was an Atleti legendary historic player and was the man behind the success the Spanish national football team, and he is obviously a great coach.

  • 92

    @davie, Ruben Michael is doing a decent job at Zaragoza, he is still adapting to the Spanish football and he is been playing regularly with Zaragoza, so he is doing a good job.

  • davie

    thanks 92 was just wondering if he was better than our midfield players in the squad can you see him being an atleti player next season? and as to the manager situation i think if we lose or draw again at the weekend manzano will go

  • 92

    @davie, well I can see Ruben Micael an Atleti player depending how he finishes the season with Zaragoza, so if overall Zaragoza has a good season then yes, Micael can become an Atleti player.