Bilbao Athletic 2-0 Tudelano: New Look Cachorros Start Season With A Big Win

Gaizka Garitano Bilbao Athletic Team

New look Bilbao Athletic dominated their first match of the season (AC)

Bilbao Athletic are coming off of a very successful first year under manager Gaizka Garitano, but the team looks vastly different. Oscar Gil, Unai Bilbao, Andoni López, Unai Simón, Iker Undabarrena, Tarsi Aguado, and several other players have left. In fact Gorka Guruzeta and Peru Nolaskoain, although they will still get minutes with the reserves, are currently members of the first team.

Several players were promoted from CD Basconia and a few were brought up all the way from the Juvenil A team. Only three outside signings were added in Real Sociedad left-back Odei Arrieta, Amorebieta center-back Oier Luengo, and the return of winger Jurgi Oteo who spent last year with Barakaldo. Combined with all of the promotions the team looks almost completely different, but the potential and quality is still very exciting.

On Saturday the Cachorros began their league campaign as they hosted Tudelano at Lezama. The starting lineup had several new faces but the team was still able to play their possession, attack-based style of football that characterized last season. Iñigo Vicente was the focal point of the team and was able to create and attack without the opponents having an answer for the 20-year-old. Iñigo Muñoz also kept his place on the right win, while Asier Villalibre started at striker after returning from a loan spell in the Segunda last season.

Meanwhile, Oihan Sancet started as the attacking midfielder and caused problems for Tudelano the entire match. The 18-year-old was one of the stars from last year’s Juvenil A squad and spent the entire summer training with the first team. Further back in midfield was Unai Vencedor, who also played with the Juvenils last year, and Iñigo Baqué who was given the Captain’s armband. The new center-back pairing of Dani Vivian and Oier Luengo looked strong and comfortable throughout the match, while returning fullbacks Jon Sillero and Jon Rojo performed well.

The first half didn’t contain much action, but both sides did have a good chance in front of goal. Tudelano worked to get a shot from inside the box, but goalkeeper Unai Etxebarria did well to make a great save. Minutes later Bilbao Athletic earned a corner which found Dani Vivian in the box, however the defender’s header was too strong and sailed over the crossbar. The Cachorros were the stronger side through the first 45 minutes, but the visitors were making things difficult.

Bilbao Athletic

Bilbao Athletic celebrate Sancet’s opening goal (LaCanteraDeLezama)

In the second half Bilbao Athletic found themselves in some trouble when Tudelano were awarded a penalty kick. Luckily, the shot was sent off the crossbar which kept the game scoreless. It was a wakeup call for Garitano’s team who then turned up the pressure and were able to find the opening goal. After winning the ball back on the left wing, a pass was played to Iñigo Vicente who immediately took on a defender. He then slid a pass to Oihan Sancet who was surging into the box. The midfielder settled and then calmly placed the ball past the keeper to give Bilbao Athletic a 1-0 lead.

For the rest of the second half Tudelano sent more players forward looking for an equalizer. They were unable to break down Bilbao Athletic’s defense and did not create any real chances. Meanwhile, the Cachorros continued to attack and would be repaid for their efforts. Jon Morcillo beat the Tudelano defense on the left wing and Antonio Salado sent in a low cross that found Asier Villalibre in the box. He was able to beat the goalkeeper from close range to give Bilbao Athletic a 2-0 lead and the win.

It wasn’t a perfect game from Bilbao Athletic, but with so many new faces it was an impressive victory. Gaizka Garitano’s team was in complete control for most of the match and showed the same balanced approach that led to success last season. Vicente and Sancet were the standout players as Bilbao Athletic took all three points and will now turn their attention to next weekend’s matchup against Gimnástica.

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