Athletic Club is currently preparing for Monday’s game against Eibar which will take place at the Ipurua. The Lions will enter the game in sole command of 6th place, but Eibar only trail them by three points. It promises to be a very tight match, as Basque Derbies normally are. Following Tuesday’s training session, Ander Iturraspe spoke to the media and highlighted the recent 5-1 victory over Las Palmas as a jumping off point for Athletic to finish strong.
“It was a great game against a difficult team. You have to play a specific way against them, with intensity and pressure to create turnovers. From the very start of the game we played well and did what the coach asked of us. We playing well lately. The situation is good and we are all in a good moment. We have to take advantage of our recent form. Every match is important now and each one is difficult. There is a lot at stake. The victory against Las Palmas was good and it did a lot for us.”
Iturraspe then looked ahead to the meeting with Eibar, calling it one of the biggest games of the season. The midfielder said that their neighbors can make things really difficult with their style of play, but that he believes the Lions should win if they play well.
“Eibar is one of the most important games of the season. It is normal for them to think that, just like us. It’s going to be a difficult game and we respect them so we have to give our best. We always try to be as high as possible and keep climbing. What matters most is that we are playing at a high level going into the match. I don’t know if this is our best form of the season, but it has been one of best stretches of the year. Eibar is not a team that shines, but they are just really solid. They can be very compact and makes things difficult. Eibar has merit to be here in this fight for Europe. We are one of many teams fighting to qualify for Europe and everyone wants it to the death. If we want the points, we have to be ready to play our best game. If we do play our best, I don’t think there will be any obstacles to keep us from winning at Ipurua.”
In closing, Iturraspe was asked about his recent rise in playing time. He said that the team is full of quality and all he needs to do is work hard to be available and perform at his best when on the pitch. When asked about the future of Ernesto Valverde, the captain refused to comment.
“I’m doing well and have great feelings lately. We are competing well for this final stretch and that’s due to the preparation of the coaching staff and how the team trains. The Mister have many options to put on the field and we all want to play as much as possible. The coach has to be the one to make the decision. My goal is to keep working hard and be available when needed. I just need to give my best whenever I am in the lineup. We do not know anything about Valverde’s future, it isn’t our business. When has decided something I’m sure he will tell you. I have nothing more to say about it.”
Athletic Club is unbeaten is Basque Derbies this season and will want to keep that going on Monday. Their form away from home has been abysmal this season, but recent results suggest that things may have turned around. Regardless, Monday’s match is going to be very difficult, but it is a must win if the Lions want to qualify for European competition once again.