Athletic Club will clash with Eibar Monday night at Ipurua in a game that promises fireworks. The Lions currently hold a six point lead over the neighbors, making a victory for either side massive. Following training on Friday, Eneko Boveda spoke to the press and was open about the fact that playing against his former club will be quite special. However, he was also quick to mention that Eibar should not be underestimated.
“Without a doubt it an important game for me personally; it’s special. I have friends at Eibar that I still keep up with. It’s nice to remember those moments there. Every year the club has changed for the good and improved. More money has been coming in, the right moves made for the squad, and every season they have been better than the previous. You have to respect Eibar, not underestimate them because they have earned the points to be where they are right now. The match is important, but not definitive. They are a direct rival and there are only six games left to play.”
Boveda also touched on Athletic’s form this season, saying that things have gone easier as of late. While he has not been a steady starter for Los Leones, Boveda did say that he has played with regularity and achieving qualification for Europe will put a successful stamp on his season.
“There are gaps or stretches of the season where things seem to go easier. We are playing well and in a good moment. We want to achieve the goal that we set at the beginning of the season. I have been participating, more or less, but with regularity. The team is strong in the positions that I play. If at the end of the year we achieve our goal, I’ll see my season as a good one. Everything thing counts, how you train and play, and it can affect you. That is the law of football.
In closing, Boveda remarked that the players have no idea what decision Ernesto Valverde will make regarding his future. Either way, the right-back feels lucky to have trained under Valverde, whom he calls one of the best managers in football.
“We do not know what will happen with Valverde and we can’t compare it to any other situation. I’ve heard echoes around the press, but it has not affected us in any way. He hasn’t told us anything and our job is to train and play. I am happy to have been coached by him because he is one of the best coaches in all of football.”
Athletic Club is unbeaten in Basque Derbies this season, and are favorites going into Monday’s match. However, Eibar has been strong at home while Athletic’s away form has been less than stellar. This match could determine which side eventually qualifies for the Europa League, so there is more to play for than mere rivalry. Expect both sides to get after the ball early and try to press each other high up the pitch. It is going to be entertaining, that is for sure.