Athletic is going from process to process in the Copa del Rey, the trophy that San Mamés falls in love with so much. Espanyol was a piece of cake in the hands of a team that if there is one word that defines it since 2019 in this KO journey is reliability. Although the result was short, a scrawny 1-0, he didn’t feel sweaty on a cold night, with hail and sea water, a scene from those northern epics, although not as gruesome as in that 5-2 in the old Cathedral 40 years ago. years in which the Cameroonian goalkeeper N’Kono confessed that he had seen snow for the first time in his life. The rojiblancos can only blame the usual: how is it possible that with 17 corner kicks, 35 balls hanging over the area and 11 players who have finished off at some point, they pack only one goal?
If the blue and whites announced that the Cup unleashed their ambition and dreams, all that pretense must have stayed at the hotel. What did they jump into the field? Valverde’s team was not very brilliant, but once again it was effective. It came out accordingly in a game that highlighted a team with two finals and a few semis in the last three years, a block with 20 single-game qualifiers overcome. There are already 21 between Cup and Super Cup. Meanwhile, Espanyol clung to an ultra-defensive system, a chaos in which Exposito had to chase Yuri breathlessly down the flank and Puado cursed the moment he was entrusted with shrinking De Marcos on the other flank. The local left-handed side was an invitation to suffering, because Rubén Sánchez could not lower Berenguer either. The locals began to accumulate occasions, two in the boots of Berenguer and Sancet. They reached the area very easily with two centers. And there was another card to play. As it was difficult to filter passes or make walls, the resource of the long shot was more than interesting. There was no news from the parakeets, just a little Joselu annulled for clear offside in a previous hairstyle.
The verdict came in the 27th minute. The goal required an association that was as fast as it was exquisite from the rojiblancos midfielders. Vesga began operations with a horizontal pass to Zarraga. This quickly engineered the greatest possible damage on the parrots. He vertically tossed Sancet, who had Cabrera’s sticky mark on his back. He saw a bullet named De Marcos cut towards the goal without the surveillance of a Handful as a spectator. Oihan took out the spur resource, one of his many magic tricks. And The side defined masterfully, a luck that usually goes uphill.
The ‘cerrojazo’ of Diego Martínez was sustained from the premise of not fitting in and grabbing some in the 90 minutes, or 120 if the eighths in Bilbao were extended. Broken the plan, finished the substance. But in that team that he put in the fray there were people to create, not just to destroy or park a fleet of buses in the Joan García area. And with the momentary defeat, it was their turn to take steps forward to make the lions a little uncomfortable, although they postponed that adventure until well into the second part. Well, it could be said that at no time did they believe in passing if it was not in the penalty shootout.
What went well in Getafe does not have to work in San Mamés. Each theater requires a script. On this occasion, the three centrals went through a torture rack. They jumped to try to correct the inferiority on the wings or inside and upset the entire system, because they hesitated, went late and stayed in intermediate positions, so they left spaces, true large estates, throughout the offensive front of the people of Bilbao. Cabrera, for example, had commissions from Nico Williams on occasion and ate a few clippings, caracoleos and changes of pace. And hence, although there was a line of five living next to the goalkeeper, Guruzeta was enabled to receive in the front, turn and shoot on goal in the 42nd minute. A team sustained in 25 meters and dozens of legs applied in defense, but badly parked
The lions were accumulating merits to extend the advantage. A collection of corner kicks, a shot here, a save from the visiting goalkeeper there… Those who wanted to play and score goals were only them. But with such a dense squad it is not easy to have chances. In these cases, the best thing is to shoot from a distance and when faced with a rebound, if you have many attacking elements, you even out options to take the rebound. The most complex thing in these cases is opening the can, creating chances. At the edge of the break, trouble came in a fight between Yeray and Puado. The center-back raised an arm and hit the blue and white’s face. It was checked to see if it was assault. He would have had a joke, not one expulsion in his career in the elite and in four days, two reds. Finally, that second one did not show up.
The second part was boring. Diego Martínez went to the defense of four, a 4-2-3-1, with Puado and Vidal on the flanks, a much more legible system by his people, who achieved more order in each quadrant of the pitch. They tied Valverde’s cars better, but it was still difficult for them to generate in attack. In addition, they continued without detecting Zarraga, with rhythm and vitality to go to the front. Iñaki Williams and Muniain came out to add more sparks to the local attack and seal the tie. Later, Raúl García and Herrera jumped to the green. Four replacements of enormous weight and level, all of attack. A symptom of ambition. They certified that, once again, for Athletic the Cup is a piece of cake until the last meter, that of the final. That is another song.
Alex Vidal (45′, Leandro Cabrera), Nicholas Melamed (60′, Sergi Darder), Inaki Williams (68′, Gorka Guruzeta), Pol Lozano (68′, Edu Exposito), iker muniain (68′, Alex Berenguer), luka koleosho (68′, Javier Puado), Jose Carlos Lazo (77′, Ruben Sanchez), Ander Herrera (78′, Oihan Sancet), Raul Garcia (78′, Oier Zarraga)
Referee: Juan Luis Pulido Santana
VAR referee: Santiago Jaime Latre, Miguel Ángel Ortiz Arias
Javi Puado (35′,Yellow) ruben sanchez (43′,Yellow) Yeray (44′,Yellow) Sergi Gomez (47′,Yellow) Vinicius (92′,Yellow)