Athletic Club 1-2 Real Madrid summary: score, goals and highlights LaLiga
Athletic Bilbao 1-2 Real Madrid: as it happened
Athletic Bilbao 1-2 Real Madrid: match summary
Real Madrid ended the calendar year on top of LaLiga, with an early Christmas present in the form of Sevilla and Barcelona's draw on Tuesday capitalized on by Carlo Ancelotti's depleted squad in a 2-1 victory in San Mamés. Karim Benzema provided both the goals in an opening flurry of attacking intent from the visitors that may well have been part of the Italian schemer's gameplan, given his lack of resources. Madrid were missing 11 players for the trip to Bilbao due to a covid outbreak and Ancelotti had little in reserve on Wednesday, holding out until the 85th minute to make his first change of the game.
It was a risky strategy against a side as renowned for their fighting spirit as Athletic, who will have gone into the game wondering just how long Madrid could weather a sustained attacking storm. As it transpired, Benzema put the matter back to the hosts with two expertly taken goals within seven minutes of kick-off, providing Madrid with a cushion that would prove invaluable in an onslaught lasting 80 minutes from the moment Oihan Sancet pulled one back with 10 minutes on the clock.
Athletic racked up 15 shots in total and kept Madrid pinned in their own half for much of the game, occasional forays by Vinicius and Eden Hazard serving only to offer brief respite. However, a combination of stout defending, particularly from Éder Militão, who has grown into his role as a senior central defender following the departures of Sergio Ramos and Raphaël Varane, and some excellent midfield work from Casemiro's deputy Eduardo Camavinga, restricted the home side to two efforts on target. Seven blocked shots tell their own tale, with Lucas Vázquez particularly willing to throw himself at everything Athletic offered.
It would be easy to point the finger for the hill Athletic were left to climb at 20-year-old keeper Julen Agirrezabala, but there was little Unai Simón’s understudy could do about two excellent finishes from Benzema, who turns everything he touches into gold at the moment, apart from a certain Ballon in his home country. The Athletic stopper made two excellent saves late on to keep his side in the chase and once again the Basque side’s lack of clinical precision in front of goal was the difference between a draw, or better, despite the home side’s dominance in the second half.
What Athletic’s profligacy - coupled with Sevilla’s dropped points at home against Barcelona - means for LaLiga is that the title is now Madrid’s to lose. Atletico and Barça have fallen by the wayside and only Sevilla, and in a pinch maybe their city rivals Betis, are in a position to challenge what seems already like a foregone conclusion: Madrid have dropped 11 points in 19 games, hold a crushing goal difference advantage and have already beaten Sevilla, the first criteria to consider in a potential head to head when the season ends.
Here's how the top of the table looks going into the winter break in LaLiga. Madrid now have an eight-point advantage over nearest challengers Sevilla.
And there's the whistle! Athletic's losing run against Madrid continues as Carlo Ancelotti's threadbare squad hold on for a 2-1 win, courtesy of the brilliance of Karim Benzema.
Julen! Another great save from the young Athletic keeper to deny Kroos. Corner for Athletic at the other end... this could be the last chance.
Three minutes added.
Lovely touch from San Mamés as Benzema goes off to an ovation from the home fans, which the Frenchman acknowledges in turn. Luka Jovic on for a cameo.
Yeray! A stinging shot from the Athletic defender whacks Iñaki Williams on its way to Courtois. Luck not breaking the home side's way this evening.
Peter comes on for Madrid for his senior debut. Hazard goes off, clutching his shin as he does so.
Williams! Another chance for the Athletic forward, whose shot is wide.
Changes as Muniain makes way for Athletic and Vinicius heads off for Madrid, to be replaced by Mariano. The Brazilian takes his sweet time leaving the pitch to the annoyance of Raúl García and San Mamés.
The Belgian thought he had sealed it there but the 20-year-old keeper got down well to make a fine stop with his left hand.
Julen! What a stop to deny Hazard!
Athletic are tipping the shot scales now with 12 to eight but remarkably have still only managed one on target.
Williams! Nico looks to pick out his brother with a fizzing cross and the older sibling almost gets a stud to it. How long can Madrid hold out with no subs?
Raúl García! Just over from the veteran Athletic striker.
Excellent defensive work from Hazard, who nicks the ball of Muniain's boot. We suspect the Belgian would prefer to be at the other end of the pitch though. Madrid are under the cosh.
Williams! De Marcos again finds some space on the Madrid right and pings in a cross for the striker, who is denied by the sprawling Courtois.
Eden Hazard has dropped so deep now he's practically playing as a defensive midfielder. It's no exaggeration to say Madrid are hanging on here with plenty of tired legs and not much on the bench.
Half-hearted Athletic appeals for a handball as Valverde deflects a Lekue shot but the Uruguayan had his hands pinned behind his back.
Raúl García and Lekue on for Athletic.
Williams! A loose ball from Lucas Vázquez goes straight to Sancet, who feeds Williams and the striker's shot shaves the side netting! San Mamés is on its feet.
Hazard has been more active after the break and threatens to drive through before Dani García clubs the Belgian to the floor.
Still no movement on the Madrid bench. Ancelotti would probably prefer a two-goal cushion before he calls on the kids.
Nico Williams enters the fray for Athletic, Zarraga makes way.
Kroos! We've seen those go in before but the German international's effort is high and none too handsome.
Lucas Vázquez goes down under a hefty challenge from Núñez. There's some movement on the Athletic bench as Nico Williams and Raúl García start to warm up.
Athletic have started the second half as they ended the first and put together a nice move on the edge of the Madrid area. Muniain slips as he is shaping to shoot though and the visitors clear.
No changes at half time it seems.
We're back underway in San Mamés!
And there's the half! Entertaning stuff from both sides with Athletic firmly on top after that quick double from Benzema inside the opening 10 minutes.
Vinicius' frustration shows again as he overcooks a ball and hits the deck after brushing De Marcos. The ref simply waves play on.
Just the one minute added.
Athletic work a training ground routine and Muniain fires it into the area. Sancet gets a glancing header on it but it's well wide.
Both players go into the book for a little bit of afters.
Vinicius eases the pressure with a lung-bursting run on the left and goes to ground under minimum contact from Vencedor, the Brazilian appearing to slip into the Athletic midfielder.
Madrid really have their backs against the wall at the moment as Athletic pour forward. Ancelotti's side are pinned back around their own area.
Militão's blushes are spared as De Marcos is penalised for handball chasing down a timid clearence from inside the area.
Mareclino is in danger of doing his hamstring again as he vehemently protests a foul given on De Marcos against Vinicius. The Madrid forward appeared to just stop when he realised he had lost the ball.
Athletic are buzzing around the Madrid back line and forcing all sorts of errors from the visitors, but are finding it hard to get Williams and Sancet into dangerous areas.
Sancet sees some open grass on the left and drives forward but Camavinga makes a fine tackle to prevent the Athletic man from getting away.
A loose ball from Camavinga almost sets Sancet on his way but he forgets to take the ball with him and Madrid recover their positions.
Balenziaga! He caught it well enough on the half-volley but his effort flies wide.
De Marcos sends a fizzing cross in and Nacho has to throw himself at it to prevent Williams getting a sniff. Cormer for Athletic.
Nine attemps in the game so far, five of them on target.
Vencedor switches play to the far side and recieves the ball back on the edge of the area, smashing a shot just over the bar.
Unai Núñez! It's not far off from the defender, who beats Madrid's back four to the delivery.
Camavinga has come out the blocks with the bit between his teeth this evening and gives Zarraga a little warning tha he is about in midfield. Athletic have a corner.
Given historical results between these two sides, there will be a fair few punters rueing a fewer than 2.5 goals this evening.
San Mamés is incensed as Camavinga goes in hard on Muniain. The Athletic captain has been around the block a few times though and shrugs it off.
Athletic have another decent chance as first Sancet and then Balenziaga both have shots blocked.
The Navarran midfielder picks the ball up on the edge of the area and hammers an unstoppable shot past Courtois! OK, we have a game again.
Well, for all the pre-match talk of a weakened Madrid being ripe for the picking in San Mamés, Benzema has put Madrid firmly in control after less than 10 minutes.
The Frenchman is back up though and fine to continue, despite a grimace.
Gooooooooooooooooool! Benzema! The Frenchman is down though and his teammates look very concerned. He fell bizarrely after hitting a shot across Julen.
Athletic look to hit back immediately but Williams fails to read a ball into the central channel and Courtois mops up.
The Frenchman is in a state of grace at the moment and buries a first-time shot after a one-touch Madrid move around the area with aplomb. That is not how Marcelino will have envisaged the opening five minutes.
Kroos gets an opportunity to shoot from his preferred position just outside the area but it's an easy save for Julen.
No Unai Simón this evening between the sticks, the Spain keeper out due to covid-19 protocols. Reserve keeper Julen Agirrezabala makes just his third senior start for the Lions.
- 3Eder Militao
- 23Ferland Mendy
- 17Lucas Vázquez
- 15Federico Valverde
- 20Vinicius Junior
A quick reminder of the starting line-ups.
- 26Julen Agirrezabala
- 18De Marcos
- 3Unai Núñez
- 19Oier Zarraga
- 16Unai Vencedor
- 14Dani García
- 8O. Sancet
The teams are coming out now and San Mamés is pumped for this one.
Atleti lose again
If official confirmation were needed, Granada have provided it. Atlético will not be defending their title this season.
Athletic vs Real Madrid: El Viejo Clásico
Athletic vs Real Madrid is known as El Viejo Clásico in Spain, with the first meeting between the sides coming in 1903, when the Lions beat Madrid 3-2 in the final of the Copa. Overall, there have been 237 official games between the teams, with 75 Athletic wins, 118 Madrid triumphs and 44 draws.
Athletic starting XI confirmed
Oihan Sancet partners Iñaki Williams in attack for the Lions, who have Raúl García on the bench, probably with an eye on wreaking some havoc on tired legs in the second half. We fancy Ancelotti will not be using many subs this evening if he doesn't have to. Iker Muniain will provide the trickery for the front two and Dani García and Unai Vencedor the steel in midfield.
Who is Real Madrid's Peter? AS talks to the coach who discovered him
One player we are hoping we might get a look at this evening is Peter, a Madrid-born winger with the flair of a Brazilian and a lot of hype surrounding his recent first-team promotion.
AS had a chat recently with the scout that first spotted him.
Real Madrid starting XI confirmed
Zero curve balls from Carletto, who has as you might expect fielded what senior players he has. As you can see, there are not many familiar names on the bench so the Madrid manager will be hoping he doesn't have any injuries or other setbacks early on.
Athletic vs Real Madrid: times, TV and how to watch online
For a more in-depth look at the teams and form going into this game, and a handy guide as to what time it kicks off where you are and how you may be able to stream it, look no further.
Athletic beat Betis last time out to move into the top 10 and can start to look up the table with many of those sides above them hardly firing on all cylinders, most notably Atlético and Barcelona, who are basically out of title contention already. For Athletic, who are one of only three teams - no prizes for guessing the other two - never to have been relegated from the top flight, a European finish this season will represent good business.
Marcelino seeking rare victory over Madrid
Athletic have not beaten Madrid in LaLiga since 2015 and Ancelotti’s side have won five of the last six league meetings between the sides, although The Lions did score a rare victory over tonight’s opponents in the Spanish Super Cup almost a year ago.
However, despite Athletic's woeful historical record against Madrid, the old adage that there's never a better time to play the leaders is particularly true at the moment. Carlo Ancelotti's squad has been eviscerated by a covid outbreak and although the Italian schemer can field a more or less first-choice starting line-up, there's not much beyond Castilla youngsters on the bench.
Real Madrid are sitting pretty at the top of LaLiga despite their recent draw against Cádiz, a result that was ameliorated by the 1-1 draw between Sevilla and Barcelona last night. The Andalsusian side, managed by former Bernabéu boss Julen Lopetegui, are emerging as the only genuine challengers to a Madrid procession this season but really needed to win that one.
Athletic Bilbao vs Real Madrid: welcome
Hello and welcome to AS USA's live coverage of the Liga fixture between Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid from San Mamés. Kick-off this evening is at 21:30.