Bilbao (EFE).- In Vallecas an unusual event occurred at Athletic Club in the last decade and a half: being available, Iker Muniain did not play for a minute and watched an important game from the bench.
It was not something completely exceptional, but not much has happened in the 14 seasons that, since he was promoted to it at the age of 16, the Navarrese, who has just turned 30, has been in the Bilbao first team.
Muniain is key in those 14 courses of a certain bonanza and continues to be a player with an indisputable influence on the results of the Basque team.
The numbers for this season make it clear.
A course in which Ernesto Valverde begins to discuss the permanent position in the starting eleven of Txantrea.
With the captain in charge of the game, Athletic began overwhelmingly, linking goals and rising to the Champions League positions.
The start of the calendar, yes, was benevolent.
But, coinciding with physical problems of the ’10’, Valverde changed his idea and changed the so-called ‘rock and roll’, an offensive 1-4-3-3, for a 1-4-2-3-1 that has always liked.
A way of playing in which Muniain either has no place, or plays and the emerging Oihan Sancet doesn’t, or he has to lean to the wing to give way to another midfielder.
With Muniain European numbers
In this context, the numbers in LaLiga reveal an importance of Muniain that does not seem to correspond to those doubts.
Muniain has played 1,268 of the 2,160 minutes played by Athletic (58.7 percent).
He has started 15 games and in them Athletic has added 24 points, 1.6 per game.
While both in the matches that they have not played (4) or have not started (5) the rojiblanco team have added 1 point per game.
Athletic is ninth in the table, with 33 points.
With the average of the meetings with Muniain as a starter, he would have 38 or 39 and would be sixth, 2 or 3 from fifth and 5 or 6 from fourth.
With the average without the starter from Navarre, Athletic would have 24 points and would be in decline.
With Muniain starting, Athletic have won seven games, drawn three and lost five.
Without Muniain in the eleven, his team has only won two, drawn three and lost four.
In the appointments in which Muniain starred in a change, to enter or leave the field, the sign of the game only changed twice-
It was in Balaídos and the Metropolitan. In both Muniain was relieved and Athletic got worse.
In both they retired with 0-0 and both Atlético and Celta immediately scored the goals that gave them victory. Both by 1-0.
Adding those two points, Athletic with Muniain on the field would add 40 or 41 points that Betis has in fifth place and would be 3 or 4 away from the Champions League and not 11 like now.
As a hypothetical projection, of course.
Less goals conceded
On the other hand, with Muniain in the field, Athletic has scored 26 of the 33 goals it has scored in the league championship, almost 80 percent.
And of the 26 that he has received, only 12 were with the captain on the pitch. (a 46.1).
This fact, that with Muniain on the field his team has conceded less than half of their goals against, is perhaps the most striking of all.
Because if something is attributed to him, it is a certain defensive weakness or lack of deployment. And the reason why Ernesto Valverde changed his initial idea for a more positional one was to look for something more “balance”.
More defensive balance, of course, as the coach implied in some of his appearances.
The wins, with Muniain
This season, in the league, Athletic has four wins, two against Cádiz (0-4 and 4-1), one against Elche (1-4) and one against Almería (4-0).
They all went with him in the field.
And in the 3-0 against Valladolid, which can also be considered a win, they entered with 2-0 on the scoreboard.
On the other hand, they have only received one win, 4-0 at the Camp Nou. And in that game the Navarrese did not play.
In another meeting with a very adverse result, Real Sociedad-Athletic (3-1), Muniain entered the field already 3-1 against and his team outnumbered.
In Cup the numbers are similar. Muniain has played 272 of the 540 minutes played, 50 percent.
In them, Athletic has scored 9 of its 13 goals, 70 percent, and received the 3 that it has conceded in the cup tournament.
And in the only win, 1-6 against Eldense, a rival from the First RFEF but leader of their group, Muniain played the 90 minutes and scored one of the two goals he has scored this season.
The other was also in the Cup, in the 1-3 at the Mestalla against Valencia in the quarterfinals.
He has assisted three in the league and one in the Cup. Inconspicuous numbers.
Much less than those that his team presents with him on the field, which in the end is what matters. And that make his influence clear. Indisputable.
With Muniain on the pitch, Athletic scores more points, scores more goals and, curiously, they score fewer. The numbers say it. EFE
Author: Ramón Orosa