The international break is almost over. After nearly two weeks without club football, Athletic will be back in action on Sunday when they will host newly promoted Girona at the San Mamés. Recently, midfielder Mikel San José was a guest on Radio Euskadi and was asked about the break and upcoming match. He said that having the time off was good for the team, but was clear about the fact that Girona cannot be taken for granted despite being new to the Primera.
“The break came at a great time for us. It is good to disconnect a little after a very intense start to the season. The match against Girona will be difficult so we must be prepared for it. We will have to break the strength of a newly promoted club that is playing well and with confidence. I am optimistic that Aduriz will be able to play against Girona. It will also be nice to see Gorka [Iraizoz] again.”
San José was also asked about the difference between Ernesto Valverde and new manager Kuko Ziganda, and was quick to say that the transition has been relatively simple. The Lions achieved their goal of qualifying for the Europa League group stage and now are focused on what lies ahead. Like other teammates, San José is calm over the future of Kepa Arrizabalaga and believes that he is the goalkeeper of the present and the future.
“Ziganda relies on every player in the squad and he’s already shown that. The transition from Valverde to Ziganda has been simple. Of course every manager has his own ideas, but we have adjust quickly. We have achieved out first goal which was to continue in the Europe League and now we are looking ahead. We are all calm in regards to Kepa’s renewal. We have the future goalkeeper of this club.”
Athletic Club will be without Oscar De Marcos this weekend as he is still nursing an ankle sprain, but they will see the return of Ander Iturraspe who has been out since the preseason with a muscle injury. There is also a major question over the availability of Aritz Aduriz. The striker left Tuesday’s training session with back pain and may have the miss the game against Girona. Friday’s training session will be the key to knowing whether or not he is clear to play. Regardless, the Lions will feature a very strong lineup and will be looking to build on their strong start by earning another vital three points.