Athletic kicked off the new year with a difficult trip to the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán where the Lions haven’t won a league game since late 2011. Following a big draw against Real Madrid before Christmas, Athletic were determined to secure another positive result and continue climbing the table. Sevilla would prove to be a formidable opponent with both sides putting in excellent defensive performances.
Gaizka Garitano surprised fans by once again fielding a lineup with three center-backs. In fact, the team remained unchanged from the one that started against Real Madrid except for Ander Capa who returned following suspension. The system would provide strength in the wide areas and made things very difficult for the home side.
Sevilla enjoyed the majority of possession to start the game as Athletic were content to protect the final third and hit on the counter. The patience would finally be rewarded in the 15th minute when a long free kick fell to Ander Capa who blasted a shot into the back of the net to put the Basques ahead. In response, the hosts then pinned Athletic back for the remainder of the half but were unable to test Unai Simón.
Coming out of the break, Athletic thought they had doubled their lead when Kenan Kodro scored but the goal was ruled offside. From there, Sevilla continued their onslaught in attack and nearly scored the equalizer when striking the post. Moments later, Unai Núñez would unfortunately poke a cross into his own net to level the score and give Sevilla even more momentum. An injury to Iñaki Williams saw Athletic have to change tactics for the remainder of the game and weather a storm of attacks as the match finally ended in a 1-1 draw.
While it wasn’t the best performances from the Zurigorri, Athletic defended well and picked up an important point against a strong opponent. Leaving the Santiago Bernabéu and Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán in consecutive matches without defeat is an impressive feat and now Athletic will turn their attention to next weekend’s Copa del Rey trip to Sestao River before hosting Celta Vigo at San Mamés in league play.