Athletic kicked off their preseason on Saturday with a friendly against Arenas Club at Fadura. Gaizka Garitano took the opportunity to field a mixed lineup in order to analyze the squad which gave several players an important opportunity. The Lions were looking to start the summer off with a strong win against their Bizkaian neighbors, but it would take some time to find the back of the net.
The Lions were chasing the goal early on with Unai López and Iker Muniain nearly playing through Aritz Aduriz just a few minutes in. Athletic moved the ball really well in the midfield but struggled to create any real chances apart from crosses. Iñigo Córdoba lost the ball more than a few times while Gaizka Larrazabal was able to set up Aduriz for a shot inside the box that would be blocked.
After 30 minutes Athletic were dominating possession and sending in many dangerous crosses. One eventually fell to Larrazabal who controlled it, passed the López running onto the top of the box, and the shot was once again blocked. Arenas would then stun the Lions when Nacho Matador beat Iago Herrerín with a low shot well outside the box to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
Athletic would respond just a few minutes later when López carried the ball forward and cut inside the top of the box. The midfielder tried to curl a shot to the far post but his effort was blocked and fell to Aduriz who easily cleaned it up. Aduriz nearly added a second when he backheeled a cross but the goalkeeper was able to make the save. The halftime whistle sounded with the score 1-1 at Fadura.
Garitano changed the entire lineup to start the second half which saw Athletic take their game to another level. The Lions immediately started attacking and pinned Arenas back before finally taking the lead in the 60th minute when Raúl García stole the ball at the top of the box and chipped the goalkeeper. Just 4 minutes later Oihan Sancet played through Iñaki Williams who calmly finished to make it 3-1 for the Zurigorri.
The Arenas goalkeeper would then save a free-kick from Ibai Gómez, but the winger wouldn’t be denied. Gómez would find the top corner from a second effort in the 74th minute to give Athletic 4 goals on the night. As the game moved closer to the final whistle Iñigo Vicente would join in by finishing off a pass from Oihan Sancet before assisting Iñaki Williams seconds later.
Athletic won 6-1 at Fadura and fans rushed the field after the final whistle was blown. Many Lions stayed around to greet the fans before eventually making their way back into the locker room. The preseason has started off strong for the Zurigorri who will travel to Germany on Sunday where they will train for a week and play two friendlies against Paderborn and Borussia Monchengladbach.