The Athletic players returned to training on Monday following a three day break and they are now preparing for their next La Liga fixture. Eneko Boveda spoke to the media following practice and began by admitting that the final ten league games gives the team a difficult schedule.
“We have a full schedule, but everyone is ready. We have no injuries so the whole group is available. Everyone has trained well and the coach will choose who plays. Our objective in the league is up in the air and these final games will decide if our season was good or not. We want to be among the top six and that will be hard. Every stumble will be noted.”
The Lions will return to action on Saturday when they travel to El Sadar to face Osasuna. Despite Osasuna being in the very bottom of the table, Boveda says that the Lions know all too well how tough this game will be.
“We have a lot of respect for Osasuna. We remember the match at the San Mames where it was very balanced and ended in a draw. Osasuna is playing in the Primera, but they have struggled. Some speak lightly about them, but we know their players. The statistics can’t tell everything. They don’t want us to win at their home. We will be just as prepared as if we were playing Barca, Madrid, or Villarreal.”
Boveda then turned the attention to himself, saying that injuries and being eliminated from two competitions has affected his playing time. However, he knows that more competition helps the team improve.
“I played and got injured. After being elongated from the Cup and Europe you think there will be more changes in the team. It is complicated to play here, there is a lot of quality. I happy for these next three games being closer together because more players will get time.”
When asked about the next few matches being so close together Boveda said that other teams will have to cycle their lineups and that Athletic could take advantage of that.
“You have to prepare well for every game. The game at the Anoeta pushed us and we need to be a team that wins at home and away. Right now La Real have an advantage in points, but with so many close games they will have to change their team some too. Maybe we can adapt and take advantage of those games.”
Fellow right-back, Oscar De Marcos recently praised Boveda and the competition he brings to the team. Boveda thanked his teammate and went on to say that De Marcos is the best in the team at the position.
“If he spoke well of me I thank him. We all have our own personal and collective goals and it feeds competition and improves the overall team. Oscar is great competition and he’s the one who has played the most at right-back and he does it well.”
In closing, the 28-year-old was asked about the future of Ernesto Valverde. Boveda was quick to say that thinking past the current season is really difficult.
“Trying to think beyond the end of the season is difficult. The deadlines in football are very short. Everything is in the air, the coach and players. Those rumors do not change much. We are focused on now.”
Athletic Club are undefeated in Basque Derbies this season, but Saturday’s game won’t be easy. Playing in front of hostile fans cheering for a desperate team can cause anything to happen. Yet, the Lions desperately need points to climb the table so you can bet that Ernesto Valverde will have them playing at their best.