Basque Boys III – Part 3 | @cmclassicsquads

Un muy feliz viernes desde Bilbao! Welcome back for another red and white knuckle ride with the Basque Boys. Last week we made a promising start to the season, climbing to 2nd in the league, and making it through the 1st round of the Cup Winners’ Cup, so let’s see if we can keep up the good work…

We begin at home to Real Madrid, who have the same points as us but have scored 2 goals less. Perez gives us an early lead and we survive a penalty shout on 17 minutes, and it’s 1-0 at half time. Real are threatening and have a goal disallowed on 52 minutes much to my relief. We hang on for our 1st win against Real since season 1 of this blog.

A 14-day international break follows, and up next are 11th-placed Celta Vigo. Early goals are traded, and it’s 1-1 at the break. We regain the lead on 54, and it’s 3-1 not long after. But Celta aren’t finished and pull a goal back. I’m thinking of subbing Laslandes, but he scores a late brace to earn himself the man of the match award and cap a 5-2 win.

Time for some European action, and it’s our Cup Winners’ Cup 2nd round match with Dinamo Moscow. We continue the trend of leading early, and a Guerrero penalty makes it 2-0 at half time. The visitors reply early in the 2nd half, before Laslandes gets his 2nd goal and Ezquerro completes the rout on the hour. A good win, but I’m annoyed to concede an away goal.

You’ll remember that Mr. Clemente was sacked by Spain last week, but he was only out of work for just over a month, and is appointed manager of Sheffield Wednesday following the sacking of Mike Walker.

Sporting Gijon come to town next, and they’re 14th in the league. We take longer to lead this time, but former basque boy David Billabona clearly has a point to prove and it’s level at the break. Laslandes regains us the lead just before the hour, but Billabona has definitely returned to haunt us and gets a late equaliser.

Ríos is obviously cursed with injuries, this being his 3rd lay-off of the season, and we’re not even a quarter of the way through it yet.

We now turn our attention to the cup, and face our old enemy Real Oviedo, who we’ve never beaten since this blog began so it’s time to put that right. It’s 2-2 at half time, and after Perez gives us the lead for the 3rd time, there’s no comeback from Oviedo as Guerrero scores a penalty and Laslandes completes his hat trick. Their red card was definitely the turning point.

More injury news…

We now face Barca for the 1st time since the 6-1 super cup drubbing we gave them. They’re top, and 2 points ahead of us. Effenberg immediately kicks off the revenge mission and we equalise 20 minutes later, but then have Larrainzar sent off. A goal from Zizou, and Etxebe’s 2nd own goal of the season seal our fate before half time. A goalless 2nd half follows, and it’s a routine win for Barca.

A quick lick of our wounds and we’re off to Russia for the 2nd leg with Dinamo Moscow, where we’ve a healthy 4-1 lead. Dinamo dominate early, but we lead against the run of play. Goals are then traded and we lead at half time. There are goals aplenty in the 2nd half, and it ends 4-4. An 8-5 aggregate win flatters us, and we’re lucky Dinamo wasted most of their 8/23 shots on target.

Anyway, it’s another £250k into the bank, and we’re into the quarter-finals, where we’ll face Rosenborg in March.

The draw for the Copa Del Rey quarter-finals is made the same night, and if we beat Oviedo, we’ll face Sevilla or Real Madrid.

We round this week off with a trip to 6th-placed Valencia. Bobby Robson has retired, so keeper Andoni Zubizaretta is now player-manager. They lead at the end of a dull 1st half through Miguel Angulo. The 2nd half is no better, and despite having a goal disallowed on 71 minutes, Valencia hold on to win a match in which we had just 3/7 shots on target. That’s now no win in 3 league games.

So after a great start to this episode but not such a great end, we’re 4th, 8 points off the pace. Early leaders Atletico have slipped to 5th and it’s now the familiar sight of the El Clasico duo leading the way, with Valencia enjoying a newly-found resurgence under Zubizaretta.

That concludes this week’s instalment, join us at the same time next week as we look to finish off Oviedo in the 2nd leg of our Copa Del Rey tie, and try to return to winning ways in the league. Have a great weekend, amigos!

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