A few days ago Marcelino García Toral celebrated his first year as coach of Athletic Club (he signed on January 3, 2021). A celebration that continued with the remarkable performance of his players in the Super Cup. The tournament played in Riyadh showed once again that the Biscayan team does not shy away from the best national teams. Quite the contrary. Their victory in the semifinals -with a comeback included- against Atlético de Madrid, current LaLiga champions, triggered the illusion in Bilbao. In the final they couldn’t beat Real Madrid, but they fought until the last moment and had a penalty that could have changed the outcome of the match.
A year of great appointments
Since 2009, Athletic has played ten finals. A very meritorious statistic for which Marcelino has an important part of responsibility. In fact, the current coaching staff has been at four of those ten appointments (although the Copa del Rey final against Real Sociedad should have been held in 2020, when Gaizka Garitano was the coach). The other three (the last two Super Cups and Copa del Rey) are attributable to the work of Marcelino and his assistants.
The highlight of this period came in the Super Cup played at the beginning of 2021. Athletic lifted the trophy after beating Real Madrid and FC Barcelona in a few magical days. In this month of January 2022, the Basque club played its second consecutive Super Cup final. This time in Riyadh. An unprecedented event in its long and successful history. In addition, Marcelino was one step away from achieving another milestone: it would have been the first time -since winning LaLiga in 1983 and 1984- that the Bilbao entity won the same title two years in a row.
Despite the defeat, the coach showed “pride and admiration for his players.” Players who gave a lesson in sportsmanship after the final whistle and during the awards ceremony. In his appearance before the journalists, Marcelino marked the way forward: “We compete against the greats. We lack that bit of luck, of details to know how to compete in these games and close them with a win”.