Athletic Club will begin their La Liga season on Sunday when they host newly promoted Getafe at the San Mamés. The Lions are coming off of a huge 3-2 comeback victory over Panathinaikos in Europa League play so it will be a quick turnaround for the players and a few will likely sit out the weekend fixture. Manager Kuko Ziganda gave his pre-game press conference before training on Saturday and revealed that Iker Muniain is dealing with a minor ankle injury and that Aymeric Laporte and Mikel Vesga may also miss the game with muscle discomfort.
“Iker Muniain has a blow to his ankle. We hope he will be able to train normally today because yesterday he couldn’t put any weight on his foot. Laporte and Vesga also have muscle overloads, but no breaks or fractures or anything serious. It is common after a big game that has demanded so much. We hope that they will be fine and it would be logical for them to play again in the second leg against Panathinaikos. Iñaki Williams is fresh and available. He will start tomorrow and so will Kepa.”
Ziganda went on to say that the team still has a lot of room for improvement and that they need to build on the win over Panathinaikos. He warned that Getafe will be ready for a battle because this is their first game back in the Primera after earning promotion, but that the Lions want to impose their style of play.
“We can obviously improve and we have plenty of room to get better. It is also better to come into a game after just getting a victory. We have to be able to build on the win the other day and start strong. We have to impose our style, defend well, and have patience. It is important to maintain pressure and take the initiative. I aspire to have fun this year and win games. This is Getafe’s first match back in the Primera and they have had plenty of time to prepare for it. We know they will try to counter-attack so we have to control the rhythm of the game. We won’t let it be an open game because we want to impose our style at the San Mamés. We have a very brave team, not only at home. This is a team to be proud of and they have demonstrated their strength and commitment.”
In closing, Ziganda revealed that there will be no new signings this summer and that the team has chosen to trust in Unai Nunez and Inigo Cordoba who have been promoted from Bilbao Athletic. He also spoke on how special it is to play at the San Mamés and the special relationship between the players and the fans.
“I do not think there will be any news. There will be no outside signings, we have reinforced the team through Lezama. Our reinforcements are the two academy players (Unai Nunez and Inigo Cordoba) and they are the base of the future. We will trust in them. We know what it means to play at the San Mamés. We have a team where there is unity among the players and the fans and we want to win and keep building that. But we don’t just want to win, we want to produce that special sensation and entertain the fans. Playing at the San Mamés is special. Walking out of the tunnel, hearing the anthem…it’s a special feeling and I do not want to lose.”
Over the last few years Athletic has consistently gotten off to a slow start in La Liga and Kuko Ziganda wants to buck that trend on Sunday. Although there will be changes in the starting lineup, the Lions should still field a very strong team. Everyone is well aware that Athletic is incredibly strong at home and that the San Mamés always plays a factor in the outcome. Last year the Basques only lost two matches at home in all competitions and they will be looking to keep that run going when Getafe comes into the Cathedral on Sunday.