Athletic Club Return To Training With A Focus On Defensive Improvements
After three weeks of intense training sessions, and a trip to Holland that saw the team play three friendlies, Eduardo Berizzo decided to reward his players with some time off. The team flew back to Bilbao on Sunday and did not train and were also given a day of rest on Monday. Things returned to normal on Tuesday, albeit with only one session at Lezama, but it was clear that the focus was on improving the defense.
Over the last week Athletic have shown some weaknesses in their defending, mainly due to committing so many players in attack and leaving a lot of space to be exploited by opponents. It also didn’t help that there were a handful of individual errors that led to goals as well. Berizzo said that the biggest reason for defensive issues has been fatigue, but he also recognizes the need for more work.
Tuesday’s training session saw the players start the day in the gym, but split up when they took the field. The midfielders and attackers did work on the sidelines while Berizzo personally oversaw the defensive unit. He was able to give instructions and teach specific concepts and ideas to the group which will hopefully lead to stronger performances at the back. Seeing Toto take direct control of the unit that has struggled should be a welcome sight for fans who have grown concerned.
Meanwhile, Iñigo Martinez has still not rejoined the team after suffering a Grade II calf strain at the beginning of preseason training. There is still hope that he will be able to return before the La Liga season starts on 20 August. For now Athletic are preparing for Saturday’s Basque Cup Final against Real Sociedad which will be the first major test of the summer for Berizzo’s team.