What was coming from La Cartuja

The defeat by thrashing against Barça in the Cup final has only come to confirm the downturn experienced by Athletic since they eliminated Levante in the semifinals and three days later they defeated Granada in San Mamés. That March 7 marked a turning point in the competitive trajectory of Marcelino's team. More than a month later; the lions are still unable to win a game again, they have missed the European train via the league and, worse still, have succumbed in a resounding way in their double attempt to win a knockout tournament again nearly 36 years later.

What happened last Saturday in Seville was just one more sample of the decomposition of what seemed like a solid rojiblanco block. The Asturian coach, despite the obvious symptoms that some of his untouchables needed rest, has insisted on his proposal almost always with the same players and with the same system. The lions, in this way, have arrived without spark to the two most important appointments probably of the season and with the rivals in place.

The management with Iker Muniain facing the final against Barça is at least shocking. Soon, too soon, it became clear that the Athletic captain was not in the proper physical condition to face such an important challenge. The Navarrese limited himself to trying to plug his band and barely intervened in the game, something that always supposes a drag on the team's collective football because if the ball does not pass through his boots, everything is much easier and predictable for the rival of turn.

His switch to halftime, with Lekue warming up from many minutes before, was significant.. The entrance of Bilbao by Muniain meant that De Marcos advanced his position to the right-hand inside and that Berenguer went on to exercise in the left. Marcelino's next move consisted of withdrawing the Navarrese, one of the lions that was giving the greatest sense of being able to create danger, to put Vesga on the double pivot and move Unai López to the left-handed side.

This bet also lasted as long as it lasted because it was finally Yuri, one of Athletic's initial doubts, who appeared at grass level to end up exercising on the left inside. Capa and Morcillo, meanwhile, spent the entire final on the bench.

Another data to value, without a doubt, this double substitution and even that of Vencedor or the discards of Sancet and Ibai because they came to show that the Athletic coach did not forgive all of them their scarce contribution days before in the League clash against the Alavés in San Mamés. A situation that has also been repeated on previous occasions with those chosen for the double pivot. Some individual failures of the center media that have led to goals against have been penalized by Marcelino with his substitution in the next match.

If it didn't work against Real …

After the defeat in the Cup final against Real, there was unanimity that the lions had made a clean first half, but that after the break they had stopped competing. The starting line-up of the Asturian coach from that match against the San Sebastian team and the one on Saturday against the Catalans only varied by two players: Balenziaga entered for Yuri on the left side and Unai López for Vencedor on the double pivot.

Athletic's proposal was more or less similar in one case or another, although it is true that against Barça he spent much more time than normal defending near his own area. The ball did not last at all and attempts to take advantage of Williams' speed on the counterattack were in vain. Koeman's men surpassed the lions on a technical, tactical and even physical level.

The team demanded oxygen, freshness, legs and a ball; but all this and some other things were conspicuous by their absence. A disaster