On the sixth day of the League, when Athletic played at the Camp Nou, Eduardo Berizzo's project still seduced Bilbao. His team completed a splendid first half in which they went ahead with a goal by Óscar De Marcos. In the second, however, the team broke up. Nevertheless, the Barcelona He could only equalize in the 84th minute, when Messi, who started on the bench, was already on the field.
For Athletic, the draw was a good result. He remained undefeated, but the defensive problems and fatigue in the final stretch of the matches began to show the seams of a tactical approach that demanded total concentration and a brutal physical power. In fact, Berizzo's plan, with individual markings throughout the field, was very similar to that developed years ago by Marcelo Bielsa, even many of the players were the same, but perhaps it did not fall to the account of the Argentine coach who had seven More years.
When the acting board, chaired by Josu Urrutia, decided to replace the coach during the electoral campaign, there were not many disagreeing voices. Athletic had entered a dangerous drift. Neither in San Mamés nor outside, I found solutions. He always competed, but the physical did not reach him and rude errors in defense punished him. I arrive Gaizka Garitano and ordered to stop. A man of the house, the son of Ondarru, Mané's assistant who took Alavés to the UEFA final and to the salvation of Athletic on the last day of the 2006-2007 season. During the last two seasons he took charge of Bilbao Athletic, the team of the rojiblancas promises. He arrived with a fixed idea, as explained Yuri Berchiche, the glittering signing of PSG: "I had three things to correct, but very clear: to be a solid block, not to risk from behind and see that direct play is also football".
Without markings to man
Garitano, with the help of Patxi Ferreira, his assistant from the Eibar of Segunda B, discarded from the beginning the individual markings, exhausting and, in addition, causes multiple problems when the equipment is disordered. He asked his men to play in a simpler way and decided to explode the wings, with the appearance of Ander Capa – sanctioned against Barça – who he led at Eibar, on the right side, with De Marcos more advanced. On the left, he has Yuri and Córdoba, which curiously is the grandson of the builder of the new San Mamés, who had barely counted on Berizzo. Muniain plays a few meters ahead and half a point, in a place where he feels more comfortable.
Garitano builds the team from the defense, but in San Mamés it tries to launch itself to the boarding of the rival. "Since Gaizka has come, I feel better, more confident in all aspects of the game," Yuri says. In fact, all the players appreciate it. "With the Berizzo system, either everything goes well or you feel injured during the game," says Iñigo Martínez, who has been the best player in Athletic since Garitano took the reins. "You could do five good actions but at the minimum you failed, you saw that they stood alone in front of the goalkeeper and that you pay dearly." On the other hand, "with Gaizka we feel more protected, especially the defensive line. When it's together, with coverages and people behind you covering you, the team usually goes better. Having a good defense results come, "says the center. Iñigo explains that "with Berizzo We made a very high and individual pressure, so it was enough that one did not comply with his surveillance so that there were problems for the whole team. Now that does not happen. "
Garitano is committed to a more direct football and its ideology is confirmed even in the signings of the winter market. Ibai is a great center and needs someone to finish. With Aduriz in the infirmary for several weeks, Kenan Kodro arrives, a whole declaration of intentions.
That yes: the plan of Garitano did not work in Anoeta. The derby is something else. "It will not be easy," explained the technician when he took the reins. The abyss is still there, three steps away.