Athletic Club Defeat Venezuela U20s 3-0 in Friendly Match At Lezama
The international break may be in full swing, but that won’t keep Athletic from continuing to play football. Keeping with what the club did during the last stoppage, Eduardo Berizzo’s side hosted the Venezuela U20 team at Lezama on Thursday for a friendly that turned out to be quite entertaining. The Lions were without some players who have been called up for international duty which allowed others to enjoy valuable minutes.
Iago Herrerín started in goal, playing his first minutes since the preseason, and was on the field for the entire 90 minutes. Oscar De Marcos, Yeray, Peru Nolaskoain and Mikel Balenziaga formed the defensive line with Mikel San José, Unai López, and Mikel Rico in the midfield. With Aritz Aduriz and Iñaki Williams both called up to the Basque Country National Team, Raúl García started the game at striker with Gorka Guruzeta and Iñigo Córdoba on the wings.
It didn’t take the Lions long to score their first goal. A shot from Mikel Rico in the first minute of the game was saved and the ball fell to Guruzeta who was able to beat the keeper to give Athletic a very early 1-0 lead at Lezama. Just over ten minutes later Unai López was able to double the lead when he scored from a free kick. Venezuela struggled to keep possession and were not able to create any chances going forward.
Iñigo Córdoba had a fantastic night on the wing and was able to take on defenders and play with important width. In the 37th minute he cut inside the box and was taken down which saw the referee award a penalty to Athletic. Raúl García stepped up and calmly beat the goalkeeper to make it 3-0. The score would stand going into halftime and Berizzo made a few substitution coming out of the break.
Markel Susaeta, Iker Muniain, Beñat, Cristian Ganea, and Ander Iturraspe all came on to start the second half as Guruzeta moved into the striker role. Muniain was unstoppable in the midfield as he was able to dribble through defenders and create chances for his teammates. The 25-year-old almost scored a goal as well, but the real story was the defense.
Without Iñigo Martinez or Unai Nuñez available, Berizzo opted for three defenders in the second half with Iturraspe in the middle and Yeray and Balenziaga on the sides. Ganea and Susaeta acted as wingbacks, but were clearly playing more offensively. The Basques still controlled the game and Venezuela were only able to get one good shot on goal in the 72nd minute when Herrerín saved a free kick. The match would end with Athletic winning 3-0 and putting in a strong performance.
The team will train at Lezama on Friday at 11:00 but will then have the weekend off to rest and relax before returning to work on Monday. In the meantime, the Basque National Team will be hosting Venezuela’s main team at Mendizorrotza on Friday. Aritz Aduriz, Dani García, Iñaki Williams, Yuri Berchiche, and Iñigo Martinez have all been called up to the squad and will represent Euskal Selekzioa in this special match.