Athletic Club – Season Review 2013/14

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2013/14 Season Review

Season two. Tasked with qualifying for the Champions League, while also having to deal with the pre-arranged transfer of Llorente to Juventus was always going to be tricky as there are no strikers that can replace him. Still we had to try, and so I changed formation to a 5-2-2-1. For a while it seemed to work, but then our form took a dive. So I switched to my trusty attacking 4-5-1, and we found our feet again. But was it too late?

Liga BBVA (stats)

As I alluded to previously, we started well, and were where I expected us to be – up and down between fourth and fifth. Around the halfway point, everything went wrong. We were losing games we should have at least drawn, and drawing/losing games we were expected to win easily. A change of formation brought an about-turn, and we finished with a flourish, again the best of the rest, but with a comfortable gap between ourselves and Sevilla in fourth.

League results vs ‘The Big Two’

Real Madrid (h): 3-1 win

Barcelona (a): 0-0 draw

Real Madrid (a): 1-2 loss

Barcelona (h): 1-1 draw

We closed the gap between ourselves and the top two on results between us, but what let us down in closing the league gap is our failure to pick up results versus teams we should have beaten comfortably.

Champions League (stats)

We qualified directly for the group stage, where we were second seeds. We started badly, with an away draw to minnows Elfsborg, which cost us the top spot in the group, as the other results were pretty much expected. I was disappointed to draw Chelsea in the first round, but all disappointment was dissipated when we beat them so comfortably at home in the first leg, though the last minute Ramires away goal was a small concern that I’d have liked to have avoided. The second leg was always going to be tricky, but we had that lead… Until they scored two. All of a sudden that huge lead looked miniscule. I shut up shop and hoped. I’m not a religious man, but I was praying that we could hold on as they threw everything at us, but our 19 year old goalkeeper held true, and we were through to the quarter final.

Against Man City. Great. This is a team whose squad includes the likes of Muller, Hamsik, Kaka, Eriksen, Aguero and Falcao. Their starting line up consisted of most of those. Shockingly we found ourselves 3-1 up at half time after coming back from a first minute goal from Yaya Toure. Aguero and Muller had brought the scores level by 88 minutes, and at that point, I knew the tie was over. We had no chance of getting a result at the Etihad, and Muller, Aguero and Hamsik scored to send us home battered and bruised.

Copa del Rey (stats)

We played a young side for both legs of our fourth round tie against Atlético Baleares and went through comfortably. Despite sending out what was pretty much a full-strength side against Levante in the fifth round, the games fell during our bad run of form, which continued in both legs. A win in the second leg wasn’t enough, and we went out on away goals.

My Player of the Season

Again, one player stands above the rest, and again, it is the same player as the season previous. His outstanding defensive work is an example for the rest to follow, and he also scored 5 out of 6 penalties taken this season.

Transfers

IN: Jorge Galan was signed on a free to help give some depth in attack, while Griezmann is a versatile Attacking Mid. Garcia is a young defensive prospect.

OUT: Llorente to Juvé was pre-arranged as per real-life. Toquero and Fernandez were surplus to requirements, and de Marcos was sold for constantly questioning his lack of games.

Youth Intake

Mikel Irureta was a shiny penny in a pile of pig shit. Excellent potential and an already decent current ability means he’ll get plenty of games as our only other true DM is 33 years old.

Next Season

The aim is to again qualify for the Champions League while hopefully closing the gap on the top two, and to also again get past the group stage in the Champions League.

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