Athletic Club Bilbao maintain the roots they’ve always had, but Bielsa has added a courageous footballing style, including some points in common with the Barça philosophy.
An attacking style, good ball movement, and pressure high up the pitch to recover possession, are some of the similarities between Guardiola’s Barca and Bielsa’s Athletic Bilbao.
Bielsa has been able to convince his players, and now they all row in the same direction. They use suffocating pressure to quickly recover possession of the ball, and once they have it, they pamper it and play it, and are offensive-minded. Footballers like Muniain, De Marcos, and Susaeta, look for the ball continually, Llorente is the reference in attack and Iraizoz’s first option is not to play the ball long.
The Bilbao match this Thursday in Gelsenkirchen is the latest example of their style of play. Athletic fought back from 2-1 down and ended up winning 4-2 away at Schalke in the first leg of the quarterfinals of the Europa League. Two goals from Llorente, one from De Marcos, and another from Muniain, opened the door to the semifinals for Bielsa’s team. On Saturday they’re at the Camp Nou and they are not there just for the ride. (via FCBarcelona.com)