Athletic Club defeated Reus 3-0 in preseason friendly action on Saturday thanks to goals from Mikel San Jose, Ager Aketxe, and Iñaki Williams. It was a very complete showing from the Lions following their draw against Dinamo during the week. Kuko Ziganda’s team has already transitioned into his style of football and the players have been openly excited about the new season. The manager did speak to the media after the game and said that he was very pleased with his team’s performance in the big win. He also lamented the injury to Ander Iturraspe whom he says will be a very important player this year.
“I am happy with the attitude of the team and the players. In the first half there were times where they had the ball, but we were comfortable because we did not concede many chances and we created a lot of dangerous attacks. In the second half we were better in all facts. We were more solid and compact. You could also tell that they had some fatigue, but we were whole. The injury to Ander was a shame, but we are very excited about Ander this year. We knew that he could not play the first match against Dinamo, but he was great in Switzerland and were very happy with him. He’s been animated in training and integrated into the dynamics of the team. We are excited about him, as we are with everyone, but he is a special player for this style of football and we are really looking forward to his role this year. This was a mishap, but he will recover and be back on the field.”
Saturday’s game was also the first match of the summer for Kepa Arrizabalaga and Iñaki Williams. Ziganda said that he was very happy with how they played and revealed that Iñaki will be called up for this Thursday’s Europa League clash with Dinamo at the San Mames. The winger missed the first game due to the fact that he had just returned from summer vacation.
“I think they have both played well. Kepa was good. He made some great stops and directed the defense. Iñaki has a lot of spark. He always wants to play and his debut today has gone very well. He generated chances and ran into space. He was dangerous. I do not have the slightest doubt that he’s going to score goals this year. I see him playing at the top because he has that quality and can adapt. I value him as either a winger or striker. Iñaki will be called on for Thursday’s match. We will see if he starts or not, but we will have him for Thursday.”
Athletic will now have to get back into regular season mode as they will host Dinamo Bucuresti at the San Mames on Thursday. The Lions drew 1-1 in Romania, earning the ever-important away goal, but they will have to have a good showing at home if they are to advance to the next round of the tournament. Ander Iturraspe is not expected to be available after suffering his injury, but Ziganda will have the rest of his squad available for the first home game of the new season.