Athletic Club 0-1 Espanyol: The Nightmare Season Comes To An End
Athletic played their final game of the season on Sunday in what could only be seen as a relief after such a disappointing campaign. Safe from relegation but not able to qualify for Europe, the Lions only had pride left to play for and wanted to finish the year with a strong showing at the San Mamés. Kuko Ziganda had some big decisions to make as he only had 16 first team players available and the starting lineup reflected the limited options. Despite the Basque’s hopes for a great performance on the final day, the game would not go their way.
The match started with both sides trading possession and feeling each other out, but there weren’t any serious chances. With that being said, the opening goal would come from a set piece when Espanyol were awarded a corner kick after just 10 minutes. Pablo Piatti bent in a cross and David López rose to meet it and headed the ball past Kepa Arrizabalaga to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. At this point Espanyol began to put their foot on the gas and were able to create a few more chances, but Athletic’s defense did well to cut out passes before any real danger come materialize.
Athletic spent the rest of the match looking for an equalizer and enjoyed over 55% of the possession. Aritz Aduriz had two decent chances and Iker Muniain and Iñaki Williams both had a look at goal as well, but nothing would come for the Lions. Despite all of their efforts the Basques were unable to break through Espanyol’s defense and the game finally ended with the visitors winning 1-0. The match and result were indicative of the entire season and fans were happy to see the campaign finally come to a close as they have been looking forward to the summer for a few months now.
Now that the season is over Kuko Ziganda will be leaving his post as manager of Athletic Club. The Lions have already reached an agreement with Eduardo Berizzo to become the new manager and the Argentine could be presented as early as next week. The summer is a welcome sight for Athletic fans, but it will also be a busy time around the club. Along with a new coach the Basques will also be making several big changes to the squad in order to rebound after the disappointing season under Ziganda.
Athletic Club XI: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Oscar De Marcos, Unai Nuñez, Yeray, Xabi Etxeita (Iñigo Córdoba 62′), Iñigo Leuke, Mikel Vesga (Ander Iturraspe 58′), Beñat, Iker Muniain, Iñaki Williams (Sabin Merino 72′), Aritz Aduriz