Athletic Club is busy preparing for the upcoming Basque Derby against Eibar on Monday and the match promises to be intense. The Lions currently hold a three point lead in the table on their neighboring rivals, making the upcoming game a must win. If Athletic can pull off the victory, they would be just five matches away from clinching European qualification. On Thursday night, Iker Muniain was a guest on Radio Euskadi’s Fuera de Juego and said that he believes the Basque giants are the strongest side competing for Europe.
“The game against Eibar is going to be very complicated. They have played good football this season. What Eibar has done this year is worthy of praise. Winning the Derby is not decisive, but it’s very close. If we win, we will remove a direct rival in the table. We love competing in Europe and we want to be in it every year. Right now, I think we are a tad stronger than the rest of the teams fighting for Europe.”
Muniain went on to say that he is aware that the Lions have had some rough moments this year, but praised the fans for sticking by their team. He also said that he is enjoying his best form of the season, while revealing that Ernesto Valverde has not even hinted at his future.
“We must recognize that there have been moments in the season where we did not play brilliant football. The fans have been with us at all time, good and bad. We must thank them because they are amazing. The Derby win at Anoeta was a turning point. It removed a weight that was on shoulders. Personally, I am going through one of my sweetest moments and I’m really enjoying it. Valverde’s future? Valverde has not communicated anything to the players. He hasn’t given any clue about his future.”
Athletic Club is unbeaten in Basque Derbies this season and will need to keep that run going if they are going to finish in the top six. In addition to playing at Ipurua on Monday, the Lions will also be on the road against Alaves before the season ends. Iker Muniain and Inaki Williams have been in dominant form in Derbies this season, combining to score six goals and provide two assists. If the duo is on their game again on Monday, it could be another huge night for Athletic.