Athletic Bilbao

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Round 37

Athletic Bilbao 3 - 1 Celta Vigo
2019-05-12 17:30 More Reports
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Round 38

2019-05-18 15:15 More Previews
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Season Guide
2018/2019

Athletic Bilbao

In


Yuri Berchiche (def) – PSG; Ander Capa (def) – Eibar; Cristian Ganea (def) - FC Viitorul; Dani Garcia (mid) – Eibar; Asier Villalibre (att) – Lorca; Unai Lopez (mid) – Rayo Vallecano; Alex Remiro (gk) – Huesca.

Out


Kepa (k) (gk) - Chelsea; Enric Saborit (sp) (def) – Maccabi Tel Avic; Xabier Etxeita (sp) (def) – Huesca; Mikel Vesga (sp) (mid) – Leganes; Kike Sola (sp) (att) – Retired.

Athletic Club have never been relegated from LaLiga, but there were some in Bilbao who feared that it might finally happen last season. Their campaign got worse and worse and worse, before they ultimately finished 16th, their second lowest finish ever. It was clear from quite early on that Kuko Ziganda, the former B team coach who took the job after Ernesto Valverde left for Barcelona, wasn’t the man to get the most out of the squad, yet Athletic Club remained loyal to him and let him finish the season. Now, they’ve finally dismissed him and brought in former Celta Vigo and Sevilla coach Eduardo Berizzo as his replacement, which should mean an immediate upgrade. The squad is improved too. Athletic hadn’t purchased any players for the first team in the summers of 2016 and 2017 – partly because of their policy of only signing Basque players – and this neglect started to tell last year, which was why they signed centre-back Inigo Martinez in January, before bringing in talented players like Yuri Berchiche, Ander Capa and Dani Garcia this summer. They have addressed a number of areas of weakness, namely the full-backs and defensive midfield, and immediately look more dangerous. Iker Muniain’s return from an ACL injury is a boost to the squad too. With a new coach and an upgraded squad, Athletic Club can approach this new campaign with quiet optimism. The fact that they didn’t qualify for the Europa League last year means that they’ll have many more free midweeks this term and this could prove beneficial. They’ll no longer suffer the post-Europa League hangovers that had become common in Bilbao in recent years. Combine all of the above with the stadium San Mames, which boasts one of the most boisterous atmospheres in all of LaLiga, and Athletic Club are a team to be wary of in 2018/19. They’ll surely be much higher than 16th this time around.

Target


It remains to be seen if Athletic have improved enough to push for Europa League qualification this year, but they’ll certainly try to return to the top section of the table.

Season Review
2018/2019

№8: Athletic Bilbao

Athletic Club’s season was a season of two halves. They went from fighting against relegation to trying to qualify for Europe and they ultimately finished eighth, just outside the Europa League spots. The season started with Eduardo Berizzo as coach, but things didn’t go well. They were 18th and in the relegation zone when the decision was taken to sack Berizzo and to bring in Gaizka Garitano, who had been working as the B team coach. Under Garitano, they were immediately better as he simplified things in a tactical sense. They were so good under Garitano that had the season started when he took over then Athletic Club would have come fifth. In terms of key players, the central defensive pairing of Yeray Alvarez and Inigo Martinez deserve a lot of credit. So too does Inaki Williams, who was the club’s top scorer with 13 LaLiga goals as he played at centre-forward, a position that was quite new to him as he has usually been a winger. Williams had to play at centre-forward as Aritz Aduriz began to show his age. So for next season Athletic Club really need to sign another striker, although this could be difficult given their Basque-only policy. There could be quite a lot of change in the squad this summer as there were presidential elections and a new board was elected during this past season and they’ll want to make their mark on the team.


Player of the Season: Inaki Williams

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