Eduardo Berizzo Satisfied With Athletic’s Performances At The Opel Cup
Athletic Club failed to score a goal in Sunday’s Opel Cup, but were able to beat Fiorentina in the first match on penalties. The Lions then went into penalties again with hosts Mainz who came away victorious. Manager Eduardo Berizzo said afterwards that playing in such extreme heat was not good for the teams or players, but was happy with what he saw from his side.
“We showed a good performance, with defensive solidity. We failed to generate more in attack and lacked imagination, but I’m satisfied. We arrived in Mainz at dawn and the effort of the players is remarkable. They sacrificed and were able to keep pace in an extremely high temperature. Starting at one in the afternoon with these temperatures is nonsense, honestly. The match had no rhythm and it was difficult to sustain. You have to stop to give the players time to rehydrate and then the game loses rhythm.”
After playing a specific lineup against Real Sociedad on Saturday then electing for other players in the Opel Cup many have started to assume that Berizzo already has his starting eleven in mind. When asked about it he made it clear that he will let everyone fight for their place. He’s also willing to take all the time necessary before making any decisions about trimming the squad.
“I have not established a starting lineup. My idea about football is that we are all substitutes and, sometimes, the coach chooses and eleven to play. There are two games left next weekend so we will try to define a lineup that may start the league, but on a daily basis there are always surprises and we must review each player’s performance to make the best decision. I am not going to make decisions now because there is still time. Rushing something like this can lead to mistakes and you have to reflect on each case, especially at Athletic where new signings are not easy. It isn’t easy to find players that improve our team. Because of our special philosophy we have to take good care of the players we already have.”
In closing, the manager discussed the fact that he started Mikel San José in defense and Iñigo Lekue as a winger. He said that both have the ability to play in multiple positions and that their versatility must be utilized properly. However, the goal is to use San José in midfield more than at center-back.
“San José is covering the gap of Iñigo Martinez, but will return to the midfield. I know that his natural strengths and his personal desire is to be in the midfield. He is playing further back because of Iñigo’s absence, but that isn’t permanent. He is able to adapt to different positions like Lekue who can behave offensively or defensively. I think we can take advantage of that.”
After a busy weekend the players will now have the chance to catch their breath as they won’t be back in action until Saturday when they face off with Hannover. The La Liga season is just 15 days away and that means that the coaching staff will be putting the finishing touches on the team to ensure that they are ready for the new campaign. There is plenty of excitement surrounding Athletic and the Lions are hoping to continue building momentum over the next two weeks.