Marcelino’s first official match outside of San Mamés as Athletic’s coach had Real Madrid as his rival. The lions prevailed on January 14 of this year in La Cartuja by 1-2 to the white team, league champions at that time, and thus qualified to play the final of a Super Cup that days later they would win by knocking down 2- 3 to Barça in extra time. The lions’ journey with the Asturian coach could not have started in a better way.
Athletic, however, now faces their league visit to the renovated Bernabéu with morale somewhat decimated by their latest results. The merengue coliseum does not usually give anything good to the current rojiblanco coach, nor to the Bilbao team itself. Marcelino, of course, began his career as a Primera coach in style, since Recreativo de Huelva, his club at the time, endorsed a resounding 0-3 to the merengues.
That victory of December 20, 2006 with Recre went down in the annals of the centennial history of the Huelva club not only for its sporting significance. That crash came to overlap in time with the death of four fans of the Huelva team in a traffic accident when they went to Madrid to see their team in action (a fifth later died). Everything pointed to the suspension of that meeting, but finally it ended up being disputed after a series of dimes and diretes.
Marcelino, who could not sit on the bench at the Bernabéu when he was sanctioned, was informed in the first instance that the game was postponed, so he did an intense morning training with his players since the next day they were taking Christmas holidays. Chendo, a Madrid delegate, later informed those in charge of Recre that in the end there was a meeting, something that was again considered ruled out shortly before the players of the Huelva team arrived at their concentration hotel to proceed to the corresponding lunch.
From the food to the walk
The food, in such a situation, was not the usual for the Andalusian club footballers on match days, since Marcelino and his assistants, as there was no clash at the Bernabéu, allowed them certain food licenses. Licenses that were nipped in the bud when it became official in the middle of lunch that the meeting was being disputed.
The Asturian coach, who always looks closely at the issue of diet and weight, ordered his players to stop eating and made them take a one-hour walk around the hotel to get lunch. Recre ended up playing and attacking the Bernabéu with a 0-3 round that they dedicated to their fans who died in the accident and to the 5,000 more who followed the crash in situ.
Things have not gone so well then for Marcelino at the Bernabéu. The current Athletic coach, in fact, has added two draws in his six subsequent visits. 1-1 with Villarreal in La Liga 2014-15 and 2-2 with Valencia in 2017-18.