Now that Athletic Club has been eliminated from the Europa League, all attention has turned to La Liga where the Lions could still qualify for European competition. Sadly, they did not get off to a good start as they fell 2-0 to Barcelona on Sunday in a tale of two halves. In the first half the Basques gave up plenty of scoring chances to go down two goals, but in the second half they were very sharp and made things difficult for their hosts. After the game, Kepa Arrizabalaga told reporters that it was a difficult game and that his team really took a step forward after the break.
“It was a difficult match and from the start we were fighting uphill. In the first half we were not strong enough and we made it easy for Barcelona. They had a lot of chances besides the two goals and that makes a game difficult. We tried to take more risks after halftime and we saw a different side of this team in the second half. In the end what we were looking for were points. We are left with the fact that in the first half we gave them an advantage and in the second half we took a step forward. We fought and we were close to scoring cutting their lead.”
The goalkeeper went on to admit that fighting for a place in Europe next season is still possible, but that it is going to be extremely difficult. Still, he says the Lions will refuse to give up anything and that they will fight for all of the remaining points over the final fixtures of the season.
“We are aware that fighting for Europe is not easy. The next matches will mark where we are going to be, whether we are going to have the possibility of fighting for Europe or if we are going to be far away from that mark. We will take it match by match without giving up. We will try to win our next game and from there we will go week to week. We are not close to Europe right now, but there are still points to fight for.”
Athletic Club will now have a two week break as they prepare to face off with Celta de Vigo on 31 March at the San Mamés. While the Lions look safe from the relegation zone, battling their way into the European zone of the table will be a daunting task. Now that the season is starting to draw to a close the Basques will be taking it one game at a time. As Kepa said, Athletic will continue to fight.