Athletic Bilbao won a landslide victory over its guest Real Betis in the tenth round of the La Liga in a score of four to none, with brilliance from the left and right-backs, Yuri Berchiche (formerly of Paris Saint-German) and Ander Capa, with the moves of captain Iker Muniain.
Athletic Bilbao pressed and moved on the sides with the strength of football in the final third, with movements behind the backline of Real Betis due to a lack of good positioning of the defensive focal points by the guests.
Gaizka Garitano decided to make 3 changes from the last match that Bilbao lost to Valladolid, where the attacking trio adopted Asier Villaliber in the striker position, Álex Berenguer as a left-winger, and Unai Vincidor in the defensive centre.
Bilbao attacking tactics
The Bilbao team relied on crosses from both sides, specifically the left side, to exploit the spaces between the Real Betis defenders. This was evident from the first half during the match, with vertical movements in the back and wings by the hosts.
In addition to the exploitation of Real Betis’ defensive tactics when without the ball, there was a problem due to leaving spaces on the sides after the two wing-backs had entered.
We will try to see this in the following image which shows how Athletic Bilbao relied on the players for their attacking ideas during the match.
Here the ball is with Iñaki Williams on the left side of the attack, with the wrong positioning by the defending players at Real Betis with gaps between them and behind the back clearance, allowing the attackers’ movements with Capa moving as the right-back.
Bilbao deliberately exploited the spaces behind the two full-backs in Real Betis, which facilitated the attack in an organised vertical form and then played the cross balls.
Here we see Bilbao’s attacker moving diagonally to receive a Muniain pass, who was not satisfied with that as he made a line-breaking pass and moved to the space to become the spearhead.
Moves without the ball were the most important characteristic of the attacking players at Athletic Bilbao, which is what happened throughout the match.
Here we notice a big problem in Real Betis’ defence, which was exploited by the Bilbao players, as everyone looked at the ball without noticing the free player who received the cross and scored the goal.
What contributed to this was Real Betis’ poor defensive condition, especially the general positioning as a group on the field with high pressure and leaving spaces.
Real Betis in the defensive phase
Real Betis relied on pressure from the advanced areas on the field and trying to make it difficult to build attacks for Athletic Bilbao from the start of the first third.
Large gaps between the visitors of the visiting team on the field facilitated the penetration process for the Athletic Bilbao players, as well as the lack of proximity of the Betis player to the ball carrier to pressure and the departure of the player who must come to support in the pressure.
Here we will try to see what policy the team followed during the match when it missed possession.
Here we see the high pressure streak by Real Betis players with a clear spacing of the team players, each player at a point far from the teammate and are not able to cut the ball with the comfort of the ball carrier to Bilbao because the ball lanes are not closed.
The disappearance of the intensity of the Real Betis players was a clear matter of pressure, which made the team appear so poor in defence.
Here, the scene is repeated with high pressure from Real Betis without any problems for the Bilbao players, as the ball holder can act with the ball comfortably.
Real Betis’ crisis in cutting the ball affected the team even while they had the ball, as the team suffered in the building-up stages.
Betis’ build-up issues
Betis suffered with the ball a lot, which was clear to everyone, and this was due to the movements of the midfielders without the ball, which caused problems for the defensive players at the beginning of the attacks.
The defensive focal points diverged with the absence of the two full-backs in the picture. It was difficult in the build-up process, which caused some problems for the team in offensive matters.
We’ll try to see some of the team’s problems in the play-building aspect which is poor in this match.
Here, Bilbao chose to apply pressure the middle third, while the defensive midfielders and Real Betis’ focal points disappear from the scene, leaving only one player, but one of the Athletic Bilbao players is surrounding to make it difficult to continue the attacks.
The diversification of Bilbao in choosing the area where the ball was lost was matched by the lack of vision and the disappearance of solutions for the Real Betis players, which is what we can see here.
Here, with the siege of the midfield trio of Real Betis and the return of Bilbao completely behind the ball, the solutions for the ball carrier, who could not play the ball to the front, were reduced.
Betis struggled at the level of possession as the team did not create real chances to score and hit one shot on goal.
On the other hand, the Bilbao team made a distinguished effort on the defensive level, with the diversity and the distinguished positioning of its players.
Bilbao defensive tactics
Athletic Bilbao followed a distinctive defence system, where the match was divided into stages and the pressure areas changed throughout the match.
The high pressure was applied in the final third of the match and then returning to the middle and final third at other times, and here lies the coach’s thinking.
We will try to see how the coach thought about the defence and the tactics used in that during the match.
Here we see high pressure with coverage of the central players in Betis and not leaving space for them to receive the ball, with all Betis players in the control zone in front of the players in various parts of the pitch.
Diversity was required, which is what happened as the team returned to the first third and defended close to the goal with a clear positioning to close the ball lanes.
Here we see the Bilbao attacking duo cover the passes on the dual-core at Real Betis with the midfield trailing back and standing close to the defence line.
Diversity in pressure is a special thing for Bilbao, where the team managed to raise the pressure in the last times of the meeting, it managed to get high pressure.
Here we see the intensity of the Bilbao players in the final third and the pressure horizontally to prevent the advancement of the ball by Real Betis.
Berenguer was one of the most important Bilbao players in the two teams during the meeting, both offensive and defensive, and he performed well on the left wing.
Álex Berenguer on track
Berenguer is one of the brightest players for Bilbao in this match in terms of return, defensive support, progress, and attacking intelligence.
His offensive moves contributed greatly to creating chaos within Betis’ defence, as he moves in a distinctive horizontal shape, enters the opponent’s penalty area, and is positioned.
We’ll notice it during the team’s fourth goal when it gets inside.
Here we see his entry into the depth of Real Betis’ defences after passing the ball to the left-back, his distinctive positioning inside the penalty area, and his one-time shot of the ball so that it distinctively stays in the net with left hip joint movement.
He did not stop there, but came back and supported defensively, as we see in the next shot.
Here we see him returning to defence to contribute to the team’s defensive matters distinctively and cut the ball from a Bilbao player
The Bilbao team were able to achieve a victory, no matter how it jumped to eighth place with 12 points, while Real Betis is in twelfth place with the same balance of points, ahead of Barcelona by goal difference