The importance of beating Real Madrid for Athletic Club

At the end of the game, the Athletic Club players jumped euphorically and embraced as Marcelino beamed with the scenes resembling that of a title win. It wasn't exactly but a close second as for the Basque side, beating Real Madrid has always been of huge importance and even more in a semi-final that offers the side from Vizcaya a tilt at a trophy. It was another fine game which saw the side in red and white take the initiative in possession and on the scoreboard. They were also forced to weather the storm at the end of the tie as Madrid pressed with a VAR review in time added on for a possible handball just adding to the suspense level at the end of the semi-final.

Sin tituloAthletic Bilbao's Spanish head coach Marcelino Garcia Toral talks to the media after the Spanish Super Cup semi final football match between Real Madrid and Athletic Club Bilbao at La Rosaleda stadium in Malaga on January 14, 2021. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP)

Marcelino game plan

Marcelino has been in charge at Athletic for just 11 days and this result will be a massive boost as his game-plan to thwart Madrid worked well. Lucas Vázquez was at fault for the first goal as he cheaply gave the ball away to Dani García who found Raúl García who took his chance to open the scoring with the goal rocking Madrid. Athletic doubled their lead from the spot after Lucas Vázquez, once again was at fault with the Galician pulling back Iñigo Martínez with Raúl García slotting home. Marcelino's game plan was working to perfection with Real Madrid unable to find a way past the solid Athletic rear-guard.

Spanish Super Cup - Real Madrid vs Athletic Club15 January 2021, Spain, Malaga: Athletic Club's Raul Garcia (R) celebrates scoring a goal during the Spanish Super Cup semifinal soccer match between Real Madrid and Athletic Club de Bilbao at La Rosaleda Stadium

Madrid finally head home

Things could have been worse for Zidane as Muniain missed a fine headed opportunity but as the game wore on, it was Madrid who dominated the second half with this noticeable after Eden Hazard was substituted for Vinicius after a disappointing showing from the Belgian on the left wing. The ever improving Asensio struck the post twice before Benzema pulled Madrid back into the tie as Valverde missed a fine chance to draw the side from the capital level. It was surprising to see Zidane take off both Modric and Benzema as Athletic managed to hang on for the win. The Basque side head to the final and the Madrid squad can finally head home after being on the road for precisely a week.