Hola! and welcome back to Bilbao for season 3 of Basque Boys. I hope you enjoyed my new blog with RB Leipzig, but I’m back in Spain now and ready to have another crack at trying to loosen the El Classico duo’s grip on the La Liga trophy, so let’s get started…
We’ll start with transfer business. You’ll recall at the end of season 2 that I brought in 2 quality players in Ivan Campo and Santi Ezquerro, and I’ve also brought in 3 Basque regens, so allow me to introduce them…
The first is García Juncal Diezma, regen of Pablo Orbaiz, who used to play for Osasuna. Hopefully he can be as good as his stats suggest.
The second is Rodríguez Valero Palacios, who is the regen of José Antonio Pizo Gómez, who was on a free transfer and has promising stats for a wingback.
And last but not least, it’s Afonso Mateo Carlos Pérez, regen of former Barcelona man and Spanish international, José Maria Bakero, so hopefully he can be as successful as he was in his previous life.
So with our business done, this is the squad we start the season with…
Besides the arrivals, there were some more pieces of good news over the summer, as Bittor Alkiza returned from a broken leg, and Urzaiz signed a new contract.
As a reward for winning last season’s Copa Del Rey, we get to play Barcelona over 2 legs in the Super Copa Española, but before that it’s time for a pre-season tour, and this year it’s Scandinavia, where we’ll face Lillestrøm, IFK Gothenburg, and AGF Aarhus.
This is my 3rd season in charge, and after 2 seasons with the 2-3-1-2-2 and being leaky at the back, I’d had enough and began looking for a formation that would accommodate all my best players, so I did a test save with Southampton and had a tinker with a few different formations, and found this one…
It’s a slight adaption of the 3-1-3-3, the only difference is that the central midfielder is pushed up in line with the wingers. It yielded some great results with the saints, so hopefully it will work with my Basque Boys.
I field a team of mainly fringe players and new signings. The hosts take an early lead through summer signing Hristo Stoichkov, before 5 more goals are shared, including a debut goal for new basque boy Ezquerro, and then Huegun gets an 86th-minute winner to kick off the tour with a win, yay!
Next stop, Sweden. There’s an early goal ruled out for the hosts, and we waste little time in capitalising, taking the lead just after. Lizarazu’s injury is the only blot on the 1st half. The 2nd half sees 2 more goals for us, and one disallowed on 76 minutes. It finishes 3-0, and it’s 2/2 wins.
New season, same old problems…
We end the tour in Denmark against AGF. It’s another lineup of fringe players and new signings for us, and after the hosts take the lead early on, we fight back to win 2-1 and finish the tour with a 100% record.
So, to our first competitive fixture, and we face Barcelona in the Spanish charity shield. I’ve decided to go with the modified 2-3-1-2-2 with an extra centre back because it was so effective against Barca in the Copa Del Rey last season.
It’s one-way traffic and a 4-1 mauling. The Copa Del Rey win over them was either a fluke, or they were just really really after revenge today. If there is a positive, we get an away goal, but I’m not looking forward to the 2nd leg.
A few days pass, and it’s time for the 2nd leg. After the humiliation of the 1st leg, we’ve nothing to lose, so I try the new 3-1-2-3-1 formation. Laslandes grabs an early brace, and Guerrero scores a penalty before an Effenberg reply to make it 3-1 at half time.
The match restarts and Laslandes completes his hat trick. We’re pinging the ball around as if Barca aren’t there, it’s a joy to watch. Sub Galdames makes it 5, and when Laslandes gets his 4th goal, I can finally start celebrating. Where the hell did that come from?!
The board are only pleased with the win, and it’s only a good result according to them. Do they realise who we played and how much trouble we were in after the 1st leg?!
I’m also told that Laslandes’ 4 goals in the game is a new club record, well done, Lil!
A couple of bits of news as this instalment draws to a close as Carlos Pérez returns from injury, and Bastida joins Salamanca on loan.
So the Basque Boys are back with a bang, and already have a 2nd piece of silverware (yes, I’m definitely counting it!) to add to last season’s Copa Del Rey. I’ll leave you with our opening fixtures. We’re also in the cup winners’ cup, but the draw hasn’t been made for that yet.
After that dramatic turnaround against Barca, I’m already looking forward to next week, and seeing how the new formation does, as we start the season with an all-Basque encounter with Real Sociedad. See you next week, Adios!