Athletic Club began their La Liga season on Sunday by hosting Getafe at the San Mamés. Despite going a man up and having several good chances, the Lions were unable to beat the keeper and the match ended in a scoreless draw. The night did, however, see the first team debuts of Iñigo Córdoba and Unai Nuñez which was very exciting. Athletic earned one point but will definitely feel that they deserved more.
Athletic Club said that they wanted to impose their style of play and dominate possession against Getafe and that is exactly what they did. From the opening whistle the Lions did well to keep the ball and force the visitors to chase. Iñaki Williams and Iker Muniain were constantly taking on defenders and trying to play passes into the box, but the Getafe defense held strong. Oddly enough, it was the club from Madrid that had the first great chance of the game when a free kick was headed at Kepa. The keeper batted the ball down and reached up to claim it, but replay showed that it had clearly crossed the line. The referee waved play on the visiting fans were not happy.
Moments later Oscar De Marcos would have to leave the pitch after going down injured. The right-back played a pass to Mikel San Jose then immediately sat down holding his leg. He was able to walk off without any real signs of pain, but Kuko Ziganda brought on Inigo Lekue any way. During halftime the club would announce that De Marcos has suffered a left ankle sprain and will undergo further tests to make sure it isn’t anything more serious.
After 20 minutes of play, the game began to open up. Iñaki Williams was played into the box with only the keeper to beat but it was a really tight angle that forced his shot wide of the post. A few minutes later he would get an almost identical chance on the left side of the box and his shot was sent into the side netting. Both efforts were really difficult angles and the forward was unable to test the keeper. After half an hour to play it would be Iker Muniain with a brilliant chance as he evaded three defenders. He blasted a shot at goal but Vicente Guaita was just able to get a hand to the ball.
Halftime came with the match still scoreless and Athletic feeling as though they should be in the lead. Meanwhile, Getafe still felt that they had been cheated out of a goal. When the second half began Getafe pressed really high up the pitch and the Lions struggled to bring passes together. Their sharpness was lacking but after about ten minutes the Basques were able to regain control of the game. At the hour mark the Lions would get a free kick that was sent in and cleared, but replay would show that Aymeric Laporte was pulled down in the box and the San Mamés began to appeal for a penalty that should have been awarded. Getafe then went down a man when Jimenez picked up a second yellow card.
Just moments later Getafe sent a cross into the box that took an awkward bounce and was shot at goal. Somehow Kepa Arrizabalaga was able to react quick enough to parry the shot away to keep Getafe off the board. Eventually Aritz Aduriz was brought on and the Lions tried to find him in the box, as well as play Iñaki through on goal. At one point the winger got another chance from a slightly better angle but once again sent his shot just wide of the post. Five more chances came to Athletic as Iker Muniain began to take over the game, but the Lions were just not able to put the ball into the back of the net.
The game ended in a scoreless draw, although it was clear that Athletic was the better side. A lack of finishing cost the Lions yet again, but a point was earned nonetheless. It was also good to see Unai Nunez and Inigo Córdoba both make their first team debuts in front of the San Mamés faithful, although they definitely would have liked a better result. Now the Basques will begin preparing for Thursday’s second leg match against Panathinaikos in which they currently hold a 3-2 lead, with three away goals.
Athletic Club XI: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Oscar De Marcos (Iñigo Lekue 16′), Unai Nuñez, Aymeric Laporte, Mikel Balenziaga (Inigo Córdoba 88′), Beñat, Mikel San Jose, Iker Muniain, Raúl García (Aritz Aduriz 61′), Markel Susaeta, Iñaki Williams