Iker Muniain Is Making The Switch To Mediapunta, Eduardo Berizzo Tests New Ideas In Monday’s Training
Eduardo Berizzo’s training sessions have been intense, but have also been exactly what was expected. He’s pushed the players to be better, press harder, and make smart passes. Toto wants his team to attack as much as possible and win the ball back immediately after possession. The players have caught on to the new system rather quickly and now the manager is looking to implement more ideas and partnerships on the field.
During Monday’s training session Berizzo had his team run 11v11 scrimmages and tested his midfield units, using two holding midfielders and one attacking. Each group had a defensive pivot while the other two players were focused on creating and linking up with the forwards. The groups consisted of Mikel San José-Unai López-Ike Muniain followed by Mikel Rico-Ander Iturraspe-Gorka Guruzeta then lastly Dani García-Beñat-Oihan Sancet. It should also be noted that Sancet has performed well in training in this role and has looked confident. He scored a goal during the drill to the delight of fans.
The first thing that stands out is the absence of Raúl García. While the 32-year-old has trained a lot in his usual role, he spent Monday’s scrimmage on the wing, effectively switching places with Gorka Guruzeta. This has a lot to do with the fact that Eduardo Berizzo plans to use Iker Muniain in the attacking midfielder role right behind the striker.
After studying matches from last season, and seeing him in training, the manager is convinced that playing in the middle allows Muniain to impact games much more than he is able to on the wing where he has limited freedom. In fact, Muniain looks set for a permanent switch to Mediapunta under Berizzo. Of course this doesn’t mean that he will never play on the wing again, but rather that Berizzo believes he performs the best and helps the team the most as a central playmaker and wants to take advantage of his quality in that position.
Muniain has spent nearly all of preseason training in the attacking midfielder role, but Monday also so some new adjustments. Iñaki Williams and Iñigo Córdoba switched wings at times with the idea of being able to cut inside on their dominant foot which also creates space for the fullbacks to run in behind. The changes likely aren’t permanent so much as the manager just wants to see how the dynamic changes. Gorka Guruzeta also saw time playing behind the striker, which is something he did at times with Bilbao Athletic.
Berizzo’s is tasked with building the best team possible and competing for European qualification this season. It’s natural for the manager to test players in different positions and take fresh looks at some new ideas. However, the system and the goal remain the same. Toto wants to play intense, attacking football and expects everyone to pull their weight in defense.