Athletic Club, la hazaña de los «Bielsa Babes»

Athletic Club, la hazaña de los «Bielsa Babes»

2012 fue sin duda, uno de los mejores años para los que somos aficionados del Athletic Club, pudimos disfrutar del fútbol más vistoso que ha tenido este club en los últimos años. Todo gracias a Marcelo Bielsa y sus conocidos “Bielsa Babes”.

En Copa, alcanzamos otra final, otra vez ante uno de los mejores Barça de la historia, una final en la qué el club “zurigorri” cayó 0-3, una final que nos dejó una imagen histórica, a Carles Puyol y a Xavi Hernández celebrando la consecución de dicha Copa del Rey con la ikurriña y con la senyera.

Vamos con la competición en la que el Athletic Club dio a conocer a varios de sus jugadores y su filosofía al mundo, la Europa League de 2012.

El comienzo del sueño del Athletic Club

El Athletic jugaría ante el Trabzonspor turco el único playoff para entrar en la fase de grupos de la Uefa Europa League, en la ida disputada en San Mamés la contienda se cerraría con un 0-0. Sorprendentemente, la vuelta no se disputó debido a la expulsión del Fenerbahce de la Champions League por amaño de partidos.

El Trabzonspor pasaría a ocupar la plaza del Fenerbahce y el Athletic Club entraría a una Europa League que estaba a punto de ser histórica. Al club vasco le tocaría formar grupo con el París Saint-Germain, el Slovan Bratislava y el Red Bull Salzburg, fue una fase de grupos bastante sencilla, el Athletic Club selló el pase a dieciseisavos con 4 victorias, 1 empate y 1 derrota.

Los jugadores que más destacaron en esta fase de grupos fueron Fernando Llorente con dos goles, Markel Susaeta con tres goles y un jovencísimo Muniain qué ya apuntaba maneras moviendo el centro del campo del Athletic a su gusto.

El camino a Bucarest

Comenzaba el camino a Bucarest para los “Bielsa Babes”, un equipo con talentos cómo Ander Herrera, Iker Muniain, Fernando Llorente y Javi Martínez acompañados de jugadores experimentados como Andoni Iraola o Igor Gabilondo, buscaban completar la hazaña y entrar en la historia de la Europa League.

El primer rival sería el Lokomotiv de Moscú, la ida se jugaría en Rusia y el Lokomotiv sacó ese partido adelante con un favorable 2-1. En San Mamés la historia sería muy diferente, un dominio apabullante de los de Bielsa dio el pase a octavos de final gracias a un gol de Muniain que hizo valida la regla de los goles fuera de casa.

Enfrentamiento contra el Manchester United de Ferguson

Old Trafford esperaba en octavos, la prensa cómo era lógico, puso al Athletic como equipo inferior, pero los de Bielsa demostrarían que eso no era así. El partido de ida fue una oda al fútbol entre dos estilos que no tenían nada que ver, el estilo Ferguson y el estilo Bielsa chocaron en el “Teatro de los sueños”, y el estilo del chileno salió victorioso con un 2-3.

 

 

En la vuelta, San Mamés estaba lleno hasta la bandera, la afición empezó a creerse lo que estaba viendo y aquel partido de vuelta lo demostró, una exhibición de fútbol ofensivo con la que el Athletic Club apeó a los “Red Devils” de la Uefa Europa League.

«Es un tributo al esfuerzo impregnado por su entrenador y una maravilla verles jugar de esta manera. Se merecen llegar hasta el final»

Tocaría viajar a Gelsenkirchen, para enfrentar a un Schalke que tenía como estrellas a Raúl, Neuer y Draxler entre otros. La ida fue un 2-4 favorable al conjunto bilbaíno, que con un Llorente estelar no tuvo dificultades de asegurarse una ventaja para la vuelta. A punto estuvo el Schalke de dar el susto y eliminar al Athletic de la competición europea, pero los goles de Ibai Gómez y Susaeta pusieron el global 6-4 y el Athletic Club jugaría las semifinales ante el Sporting de Portugal.

La final de la Europa League, a la espera

La ida se jugó en Lisboa, y el club lisboeta no dio tregua, visitaría San Mamés tras haber ganado 2-1 gracias a los goles de Insúa y Diego Capel. El partido de vuelta es otro de esos partidos a recordar, el Athletic se fue al descanso con un 2-1 favorable en el marcador, un resultado que eliminaba a los “Bielsa Babes” de Europa League y los dejaría a las puertas de la gloria en Bucarest. En el minuto 88 apareció la bota de Fernando Llorente, qué tras un centro desde la zona izquierda de Ibai Gómez, remató el balón al fondo de la red y hacía a San Mamés y a Bilbao entera estallar en vítores.

El Athletic Club jugaría la final de la Europa League ante el Atlético de Madrid.

 

Aquella final, en la que el Atlético de Madrid comandado por Radamel Falcao despachó al Athletic de alzar el trofeo al cielo de Bucarest.

El Athletic Club, tras la final

El no haber ganado aquella final no quita el hecho de que el Athletic Club hizo una Europa League excelsa, mostrando un juego del que hoy en día ya no queda nada, un fútbol ofensivo con el qué el club fue capaz de vencer a los más grandes y caer con dignidad ante otros.

Sirvió de escaparate para talentos cómo Javi Martínez o Ander Herrera, incluso para Fernando Llorente, pero en este último nombre hubo otras cosas de por medio que no caben en este artículo.

En definitiva, los “Bielsa Babes” se mostraron a Europa y al mundo entero, y gracias a esa Europa League demostraron, una vez más, lo grande que es el Athletic Club.

 

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