La Liga Defender Club Review – Athletic Bilbao


Athletic Bilbao have had a good season to say the least! They managed to finish seventh in La Liga, but have since seen manager Ernesto Valverde depart the club to take over at Catalan giants Barcelona. New boss José Ángel Ziganda has moved up from Bilbao Athletic to take over the first team ahead of the 2017-18 season.

19 wins all season and a goal difference of +10 has seen them earn their seventh placed finish for the second time in three seasons. They finished with more points than last term, when they finished fifth – and so despite coming in lower in the table the outcome does reflect steady improvement at the club since Valverde had taken over in 2013 for his second spell in charge, having previously departed the club as boss in 2005.

While they scored 53 goals, today’s club review will be taking a look at their other stat – 43 conceded. It isn’t a bad shipment of goals really from 38 games, but does still give an average of more than one goal conceded per match – a stat which will surely be on the priority list for improvement under Ziganda’s tenure.

Mikel San Jose was certainly the most prolific defender at the club, at least for our fantasy managers’ consideration. He earned 40 points with a 5.00m valuation. That gave him a Price / Performance (P/P) score of 7.8. That isn’t too bad really considering Athletic’s position, and he managed that total with a few less appearances than some of his colleagues too. Nine bookings did drag the score down a bit, but he also featured in a few games which involved conceding more than two goals. That dragged the score down further still, and so if Ziganda can shore things up at the back he could be in for an even better season next time round!

Mikel Balenziaga was next on the list of the big points hitters with 34, just six shy of San Jose but with fewer overall appearances. He managed only three yellows but was sent off once, bringing his disciplinary score closer to his aforementioned peer. He was also valued slightly higher at 5.50m, Giving him a P/P score of 6.0.

Aymeric Laporte was a further six points behind Balenziaga on 28, and managed 33 starts. 10 bookings put paid to his hopes of finishing higher than the former Valladolid star, but he did manage two goals. Valued at just 3.00m he proved better overall value than most of his defensive team-mates, and his P/P score of 9.0 was the highest of all of Los Leones’ defenders.

Eneko Bóveda came next on the highest points scorers with 24. With a 5.50m valuation that gave him a P/P of 5.3. While that may not exactly be setting the world alight he did manage that points total from just 18 starts, but that price tag will surely have contributed to only 1% of managers taking on the 5’11 centre back.

Inigo Lekue finished just shy of Bóveda’s total on 22, from 17 starts and eight sub appearances. He managed two goals, but at 6.50m he was the most expensive of the club’s defenders this season, and that points return won’t have delighted those who decided to employ his services in our fantasy manager game. His P/P was 4.2, proving he had a season of considerable underperformance.

Yeray came next on the points list, but was actually the fourth regular starter alongside the top three on the list. At a 2.00m valuation his number of starts (25) will have impressed those fantasy managers who took him on, but his performance would have more than reduced that delight. 21 points he scored, but with only three bookings he didn’t lose too many through discipline. Put simply, he seemed to play it a bit safer than most of his colleagues, but the price tag meant it was always going to be a bit of a gamble including him.

The remaining two defenders, Enric Saborit and Xabier Etxeita, scored six and five points respectively. They managed that from a combined total of 19 appearances all being told, and ended with P/P scores of 3.1 and 1.3 respectively.

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