Athletic Club played their fifth friendly of the summer on Saturday when they lost 2-1 to Real Valladolid. It was a completely different squad than the one that played 24 hours earlier against Club Brugge so the dynamic was different. Inigo Cordoba opened up the scoring after just four minutes, but the Lions were unable to hold the lead. Following the game, Cuco Ziganda spoke to the media and was asked about the absence of Javi Eraso. He confirmed that the midfielder will be leaving and also discussed the squad for Thursday’s Europa League match against Dinamo Bucuresti.
“Javi [Eraso] has shown exemplary character and he is an extraordinary person. He has good options to leave and it is the best solution for everyone. Kepa and Iñaki Williams are not ready to play yet and we do not want to take risks with them. It is not imperative for them to travel because we have other players who are more advanced in their preparations. It is an unnecessary risk.”
Ziganda went on to say that he hasn’t decided on a starting lineup for the game against Dinamo but will wait to see how the players respond in training early this week. He admitted that the match against Valladolid was an intense encounter, but praised his side’s desire throughout the 90 minutes.
“I have not decided on a lineup against Dinamo. I will wait for things to mature and see how the players are on Monday after two very demanding matches. We are right where we need to be, not ahead or behind schedule. Today’s game was one of the more intense tests so far and the team played with a good rhythm and desire. In the second half we weren’t at out best and they were strong with so many new players. We made changes and had chances to equalize. We played with a lot of heart but we only earned a draw.”
All eyes will now turn to Thursday’s game in Bucharest as the Lions know that they will have to conquer Dinamo to advance further in the Europa League. The Romanians will not be an easy opponent and Athletic knows it. They will have to be at their best to bring a good result back to San Mames so every single training session this week will be vitally important.