Bilbao Athletic opened up their season on Sunday with a 2-1 loss to Logroñés at Lezama, but the argument can be made that the Katxorros deserved more. It was really interesting to see the lineup by new manager Gaizka Garitano who has several new signings and promotions in the team. Despite it being the first match of the year, Bilbao Athletic looked very sharp for the most part and left fans with several different talking points. Sure the loss was disappointing for a team that is hoping to fight for promotion, but the performance was one to be excited about moving forward.
Unai Simon was back in goal, while Oscar Gil returned to the team to start at center-back. The 22-year-old spent last year on loan with Real Oviedo but has yet to leave for another club on loan. His experience at the back was definitely noticeable as was Iker Undabarrena’s presence in the midfield. There was a lot of balance and structure to the lineup that was a bit surprising considering that it was the first game under a new manager because that usually requires a team work into a rhythm and familiarity.
As far as outstanding performances go, Andoni Lopez and Gorka Guruzeta picked up right where they left off from last season. Lopez was a rock at left-back and timed his runs forward perfectly. He assisted Guruzeta for the only goal of the game and the striker did well to rocket a left-footed effort past the keeper from a difficult angle. The 20-year-old striker continues to show fine positional awareness and the confidence to strike the ball when a chance arrises.
New signing Inigo Munoz was also one of the stars of the day and quite possibly the best player on the pitch. His pace, dribbling ability, and elusiveness made him a difficult player to defend on the right wing and showed fans why the club decided to bring him to Lezama over the summer. Fellow signee Asier Benito was also brought on late in the second half for Inigo Vicente but didn’t have enough time to really make an impact on the game.
Of course, the loss was a disappointing one for Garitano and company, especially considering just how well the team played. That being said, the season is just beginning and Bilbao Athletic showed fans on Sunday that they are going to be strong this year and could actually challenge for promotion. There is definitely a lot of work to do ahead. The Katxorros struggled to break down Logrones’ organized defense and creativity going forward was lacking at times. Still, it was a promising showing from the team and Gaizka Garitano can now look forward to preparing for the next game which will take place next Saturday against Real Sociedad B.