It’s Friday and once again here’s Nick to help us see out the week. The Basque Boys are once again on the hunt for La Liga glory but up first it’s a cup tie.
Hello again! It’s Friday, and time for the CM9798 cruise liner to dock in Bilbao once again. Defeat to Barca last week started a 3-game winless run, so let’s try to put an end to it, starting with the 2nd leg of our Copa Del Rey tie with Oviedo, which we lead 5-2.
Guerrero, who must have now scored as many penalties as Bruno Fernandes puts us ahead from the spot before Dubovski equalises. Guerrero regains our lead early in the 2nd half and it ends 2-1 despite Oviedo having 3 times as many chances as us.
The winless run is broken, and it’s back to league action against Zaragoza. Laslandes puts us ahead but we waste chance after chance and are made to pay by Yordi, who Graeme Sounness will one day describe as a “good old-fashioned English centre forward” and that anecdote is more interesting than the remainder of the match.
Alkiza’s turn to be injured…
Mallorca are next, Hector Cuper is still in charge and they’re winless in 5 games. We’re good at taking the lead, but not so good at keeping it and once again we throw away our hard work. Larrainzar adds injury to insult and it’s another very poor result, complete with shock defeat banner.
A small piece of good news follows the bad as Santi Ezquerro gets his 1st senior call-up for Spain, along with our regular internationals.
Tenerife are next, and things once again look promising after an early lead, but we’re pegged back and for the 3rd time in 4 games it’s 1-1 at half time. We look to have won it on 76, but the joy is short-lived and it’s disallowed. Their keeper makes a string of late saves and it’s another very poor result.
In the 6 games Since the loss to Barca, we’ve only scored more than 1 goal twice and Laslandes, who was on fire has only scored 2 goals, so a 2-week international might just be what myself and the boys need.
Just another week in Bilbao…
The last thing you need when things aren’t going well are games against Betis, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Deportivo, but this blog wasn’t supposed to be easy, right?
We’ve not beaten Betis since November 97, but they’re struggling in 12th place. They’re all over us at the start, and how we’re 3-0 up at half time I’ll never know, especially with 10 men. Porfirio pulls one back, and they go close a few times, but I happily watch the clock tick down for a much-needed win.
Hopefully that’ll give us some confidence for the 1st leg of our Copa del Rey quarter final with Real Madrid. I can’t believe my eyes when we’re 4-0 up inside half an hour. Mijatovic replies, but it’s 5-1 at half time. Real keeper Contreras sees red, and Fernandes (sorry, Guerrero) scores another penalty. Pérez makes it 7, and not one of the 59,360 spectators in the San Mamés can believe their eyes.
2 days later we face the red half of Madrid and welcome Atletico who we seem to have a hoodoo over, with 5 wins and a draw. We go behind and lose Guerrero through injury. Perez equalises and goals are traded to make it 2-2 at half time. Laslandes looks to have won it on the hour, only for Lardín to equalise late on. I can’t complain given our recent form, so I’ll take a point.
Guerrero has scored all 7 of his penalties this season, so he’ll be a huge loss, but I’m relieved he’s only out for a few weeks, because it could have been worse given our track record with injuries to key players.
Our last port of call this week is La Coruña to face Deportivo. Carlos Alberto Silva has left, and Lopez Novoa Modesto is now player-manager. It’s goalless at half time but we’ve been totally outplayed. I give another one of 9798Nikolai’s tactics a go in the 2nd half and the MW2 pays dividends as Etxebe grabs a late brace to win us the match.
More good news awaits, as Urzaiz finally signs a new deal after some long negotiations. He’s not played a great deal over the last 2 seasons due to the form of Histilloles and Perez, but if I decide to move him on in the summer, I should get decent money for him.
The transfer window is open again, and Didier Deschamps is available again for a ridiculous £925k as his contract is up in the summer, so I’m straight in there with an offer. Come on Didi, surely you must be bored of Italy by now!
So another week passes, and we’re still 4th. It’s not ideal being 5 points off 3rd, but after a run that saw just 1 win in 7 games, we’ve now won 3 of the last 4.
I’m still undecided on the new 3-1-2-3-1 formation. The 6-1 and 7-1 wins against Barca and Real Madrid showed its potential, but I have defensive concerns about it, especially against weaker teams so I’ll have a think about whether or not to persevere with it.
Join us next week for the 2nd leg against Real Madrid, and a seemingly kind run of league fixtures to hopefully help us get back on track. Adios, amigos!