Athletic lost their biggest revelation on October 26th against Espanyol. Daniel Vivian had established himself as the ideal partner for Iñigo Martínez. In fact, his performing level made him to look like he had been playing at San Mamés for several years. However, a complicated muscle injury kept him out of the field until the start of 2022. No doubt that this unbalanced the great shape defensively from the Marcelino’s squad.

Despite that his natural substitute, Yeray, who had been absent at the start of the season and returned right for the fateful game; has been the usual partner for Iñigo Martínez in the last few seasons, Vivian’s qualities had upgraded up Marcelino’s system. In fact, they were the team that conceded the less goals in the league.

However, the importance from the Vivian-Martínez duo resided in earning clean sheets and the few scoring chances conceded. Before his injury, Athletic earned five in nine games; in the next 10, they have only ended clean sheet twice.

This has a tremendous value in a team that really struggles at scoring their chances. It is impossible to know if Marcelino’s squad would have earned more points with Vivian on the field. Yes indeed, the sensations would have been extremely different, specially in the games where Athletic showed vulnerability at playing the ball from backwards, transitions and set pieces. Some examples are the matches against Cádiz or Granada.

2022 starts the right way at San Mamés. I do not know if Marcelino had asked for this on his Christmas gift list, but Daniel Vivian is back and that is great news for the interests from the coach. Now, both Marcelino and the player himself are aware of required caution they must take.

He is a key piece and fits all the requirements to be the leader of Athletic’s defense in the short term. As soon as he gets back on shape, LaLiga will enjoy again of one of the central defenders with the biggest potential in the league, both nationally and in general.

Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.

Main image: @AthleticClub.

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