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Marcelino’s Athletic Club

Fourteen months ago, Athletic Club made the decision to appoint Marcelino García Toral as the new coach of the Basque side. After arriving mid-season, the coach from Santander had to adapt to the tactical behaviors inherited by the team from the previous coach.

However, this season, and after more time working with the coach, we have been able to observe how the Lezama team is  fully executing Marcelino’s game idea, achieving fantastic results so far this campaign.

Therefore, at the MBP School of Coaches, we are going to highlight the aspects in which this Bilbao team is excelling in most since the arrival of Marcelino.


Tactical Analysis

The first aspect to highlight about Marcelino’s work is the tactical organization that he has given to the team. Through a GK-4-4-2 base structure, ‘Los Leones’ adopt different dynamic organizations depending on the moment of the game, allowing them to execute with great efficiency the different attacking and defensive principles defined within their game model.



The second feature to look at, which in turn is related to the first point, is the execution of the defensive principles in the moments of defending the dynamic build-up and the progression of the opponent. When the opponent tries to build-up shorter in their own third, Marcelino’s side execute a high press, seeking to force the opponent to play the ball long.

To do this, Bilbao accumulates many players in the zone of intervention, thereby blocking the passing lines close to the ball. At the same time, the players located in the middle and far zones do a fantastic defensive job of balancing the press, both in width and depth, thus avoiding the creation of defensive sub-blocks within the team.



The third aspect, which is a key characteristic of Marcelino’s teams, is the quick defence-attack transitions after recovering the ball. Once the ball is recovered, ‘Los Leones’ manage to move into to the opponent’s penalty area in less than three passes. To do this, the Athletic players excel in identifying favorable spaces for progression, either to direct their movements towards these spaces, or to occupy them through driving with the ball.

Lastly, after having analyzed the three most relevant tactical points, we should highlight the form of two players who have notably improved their individual performances under Marcelino’s guidance.

The first of these is Iker Muniain. Athletic’s captain is the epicenter of all attacking actions of the Basque team. From the position on the left wing, the No. 10 directs his movements towards the central channel to play the role of the midfielder, thus being able to receive in more favorable areas of progression, and to lead the attacks more effectively.



The second player in great form this season is Oihan Sancet. The academy product possesses characteristics similar to those of the rest of the attacking frontline, capable of producing a fantastic individual performances, and, at the same time, enhancing those of his teammates as well.




All projects require the necessary time to consolidate the coach’s idea. A clear example is Marcelino’s Athletic Club. As we have been able to see during the analysis, the Santander-born coach is managing to put together a recognizable team with a consolidated game idea. Moreover, he is multiplying the individual performances of several players.

In conclusion, Marcelino is carrying out a fantastic job at the Bilbao club. Therefore, at the MBP School of Coaches we look forward to seeing the next step of his team’s progress.

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