Athletic is currently preparing for their upcoming game against Alaves on Sunday which will be their final Basque Derby of the season. The Lions are unbeaten in those matches, but this game may be a bit different. On Wednesday, Oscar De Marcos spoke to the media and made it very clear that Alaves has been looking forward to this match since the beginning of the season.
“It will be a very complicated match, Derbies always are. This is a game that Alaves has been looking forward to all season and they want to win. They can defend very well and cause problems for opponents. Every match is different because every team has their own style. Alaves is completely different from Celta. They have nothing to play for right now, but they are at home and they want to beat us. We don’t know if they will rest players because of their upcoming cup game, but anyone on the field is a great player. After this we have to play Leganes and Atletico which will both be difficult. There are three finals left and nothing will be decided until the end.”
De Marcos, who grew up in the Alaves youth system, said that players at the club have always dreamed of playing against Athletic. He did mention that the Lions haven’t lost a Derby all season, but remarked that that fact means nothing going into Sunday’s game.
“This will be a special game for me because I spent many years there. I have good memories of my time there and I am lucky to have been a part of the club, it gives me pride. When I was there, everyone wanted the chance to play Athletic and I know they still have that desire. I still have friends there and they are looking forward to this match. This season we have not lost a Derby but that doesn’t mean anything for this match. Hopefully it will be similar. We won nine points last week so we have confidence. I am glad that Alaves is in the Primera.”
Former Athletic players Ibai Gomez and Gaizka Toquero have been important parts in the Alaves team and De Marcos said that he is very happy for their success. He is excited to see them again and jokingly said that he hopes they will help Athletic get three points.
“I have not talked to Ibai [Gomez] or Gaizka [Toquero] yet, but we will see each other before the game. They are friends and we talk in general. Hopefully they can do us a favor. They have had great seasons and are regulars in the team. They are playing at a high level. I am happy for them because in the locker room they were very dear to me.”
In closing, the right-back was asked about Athletic’s chances of qualifying for the Champions League but was quick to point out that those discussions are too excessive at the moment. He also said that the players still don’t know anything about the future of manager Ernesto Valverde.
“Three months ago people were saying that this team was very bad and that was not even a discussion. Now people are talking about the Champions League again and it seems a bit excessive. There is a lot of space between us and that place so we are not candidates yet. As far as my form, I’m good and feeling comfortable. I am happy and want to continue like this until the end of the season. Valverde? There is no news. I see him doing well and happy but we have no idea what his future will be. I’m sure we will all know soon. He is a great manager and we have finished in Europe three consecutive seasons so I think that says it all. If his cycle is over it is because he decided it was time to leave.”
Athletic Club currently sits one points behind fifth place Villarreal and six points off of the last Champions League spot in the table. There are only three games remaining in the calendar so it will be a tight finish to the season. The ultimate goal is to qualify for European competition for the fourth consecutive season. But first, they will have to get past Alaves this Sunday.