Athletic Bilbao Vs Real Madrid, Liga BBVA 2013-2014: A Series Of Unfortunate Events

David Ramos

Real Madrid only managed to tie against Athletic de Bilbao (1-1) in San Mamés. The merengues took the lead in the scoreboard with a goal by Jesé, but Ibai Gómez equalized in Athletic's first shot on goal and Cristiano was expelled shortly after. This result leaves us together with Barcelona in the second position, three points below Atlético de Madrid, the current leader.

For a neutral spectator, the game in San Mamés was really an extraordinary show. As it was hoped, both teams performed with great intensity and courage, and offered us a game full of tension. Perhaps the number of goal ocassions was not too big, but the high rhythm of such an uncertain battle was enough to keep the fans with their eyes fixed on the field.

Athletic's previous games made most of us predict that they would control the first minutes of the game, supported on their intensity and the spirit of their fans, and that Real Madrid would slowly invert this tendency with the low rhythm game and possession control they are used to practising. Well, it was nothing like that. Our midfielders and strikers were much more active than usual, and the first ten minutes were an extraordinary proof of what we can do if we are unleashed. A full control of the game and two shots (Ronaldo and Di María) missed by a tiny margin were the balance of this period.

Possibly, this errors discouraged our players a little, and their mood came down. Ronaldo and Jesé reduced their levels of activity and, because of that, our midfielders were not able to control Athletic's onslaughts. Although they had barely no clear chances, my impression was that the 1-0 goal was closer than the 0-1 was, and this trend was maintained until the break arrived. A combined error of Alonso and Ramos left Aduriz with the ball inside the box, but Pepe and Marcelo were fast enough to leave him with no angle towards the goal.

The second half's first minutes were quite better. Our players stepped up again, Benzema -who was, perhaps, the most distinguished of our players today- started to appear, and Iraizoz was continuously seen on the screen. It seemed that the goal was about to arrive, and it was Jesé who finally scored it at the 65th minute, after a great assist by Ronaldo.

When the match looked better for us, the catastrophe arrived. Ibai Gómez entered the field taking Muniain's spot, and he scored a beautiful goal in his first attempt, which was the whole Athletic's first shot on goal. He crossed the ball from a free kick and, after Ramos rejected it, he shot directly to put the ball away from Diego López's hands.

It was the time to show maturity, but we did essentialy the opposite, and, for once, Ronaldo is to be blamed. In the first chance after the goal, Ronaldo complained the referee about a foul he had not called. Gurpegui slightly pushed him to stop his complaints and Ronaldo answered with a weak slap at his face. The brawl was formed and the referee solved it by showing a red card to Cristiano and a yellow card to Iturraspe, who had taken part in the fight by blaming Ronaldo for his action. Let us hope the action will not be considered an aggression, since otherwise Ronaldo will miss four or more games.

There was not a lot of football in the last minutes. Our coach decided that the draw was a good result, and let Illarra, Varane and Morata get into the field to defend the goal and try to catch a counterattack that never arrived, but Athletic did not have any clear chance either.

Although this was a great opportunity to overtake Barça and keep track of Atlético, a draw in San Mamés should not be considered a bad result. We are only three points below Atlético and same as Barça, so we still depend on ourselves to win this league, and we should trust Ancelotti's men to do so.

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