Athletic won a prestigious victory at the Pizjuán last Monday, as the lions put an end to the impressive winning streak of Sevilla de Lopetegui in the League. Nine games later, with 22 out of 24 possible points in his last eight league games and five wins in a row, Hispanics knelt before a Bilbao team full of new faces.
Marcelino’s team also now has eight league games in a row without losing. His background, however, is much less productive than the Sevillian. 12 points out of 24 possible, with two victories against as many contenders for the league title in the last three days. In this transit through the regularity tournament, Athletic lost two Cup finals.
The Asturian coach’s journey on the San Mamés bench began with home match against Barça. From the Bilbao line-up that started that night of Reyes to that of last Monday in the Seville fiefdom, only six lions maintain their position and some of them in different demarcation. Unai Simón, Nuñez, De Marcos, now as right back, Vencedor, Vesga and Raúl García make up this sextet.
Capa, Iñigo Martínez, Yuri, Muniain and Iñaki Williams would be the quintet that goes from starter to substitute, as is the case of the Bilbao striker, or to the stands due to injury, as happens to the rest. Of the theoretical eleven of gala of Marcelino, in any case, some of the “usual fixed” would also continue to be missing, such as Yeray and Berenguer.
Marcelino, for insisting on this comparison between his first and last league games as Athletic coach, made his debut against Barça with Unai Simón; Capa, Nuñez, Iñigo Martínez, Yuri; De Marcos, Vencedor, Vesga, Muniain; Raúl García and Williams. Against Sevilla, 16 games after that 2-3 in San Mamés against the Catalans, the rojiblanco eleven was composed in the Pizjuán by Unai Simón; De Marcos, Nuñez, Yeray, Balenziaga; Berenguer, Vencedor, Vesga, Morcillo; Villalibre and Raúl García. The latter, yes, only endured at grass level for about a quarter of an hour. Sancet took his place.
It does not hurt either to compare the changes made by the Asturian coach from that first game to the last. In their debut, Balenziaga, Berenguer, Dani García and Morcillo entered with the advanced clash. In the last match, against the Sevillans, the relays came in the form of the incorporation of the aforementioned Sancet, Ibai, Nico Williams, Lekue and Iñaki Williams.
Those who were left without playing against Barcelona were Ezkieta, Ibai, Córdoba, Lekue, Sancet, Kodro, Villalibre and Iñigo Vicente. Last Monday, in Seville, Ezkieta, Unai López, Iñigo Vicente, Paredes and Beñat Prados watched the entire match from the bench.
Marcelino, in short, has had to expand his wardrobe fund and turn to Bilbao Athletic to compete in these last days. Some of those who did not count on their arrival on the bench at San Mamés are beginning to have their chances. Others, on the other hand, have taken a back seat, almost always due to injuries. There are also those who did not count, in the case of the transferred Kodro and Córdoba, and have had to find a new destination and those who neither counted before nor do they count now. The case of Iñigo Vicente is the most striking at that level. The deriotarra has seen this part for a while as Nico Williams had minutes while he still does not play.
The double pivot, by the way, continues to be the biggest test bed for Marcelino. The Asturian does not just give continuity to the same couple. In Seville, with Dani García and Zarraga absent due to physical problems, Beñat Prados entered the list. The spare parts, with Paredes as an alternative to the rear axle, are already here.