Beñat “I See This Team Fighting For Europe”
After watching the first two games of the season from the stands, Beñat was called into the starting lineup for Athletic’s match against Real Madrid on Saturday. The 31-year-old put in a strong performance to help the team earn a well-fought 1-1 draw and proved that he can perform well in Eduardo Berizzo’s system. On Wednesday Beñat spoke to the media and said that it is his job to convince the coach to give him more minutes.
“No player likes to sit out, but with work and insistence you can continue to convince the coach. It takes time. Playing for Berizzo requires a lot of physical effort. The coach already knows what type of player I am, everyone has their own style, and I just wanted to give him 120%. This is the Primera and the demand and pace is the same, it hasn’t changed. All you can do is train hard and the coach is the one who will decide. Everybody wants to help the team and I was fortunate that he chose me for the game against Real Madrid. It could have been better but I think I did well.”
Athletic will play their first away game of the season on Sunday when they travel to take on Real Betis. As always, it will be a special fixture for Beñat who played for Betis from 2009 until 2013 when he returned to Athletic. The midfielder highlighted the fact that Betis have improved a lot over the last year and hopes to see the Lions come away with a victory.
“The Benito Villamarín is a special field for me and it’s going to be a special match. Playing more games gives you more confidence and I hope to continue playing. Betis strengthened their squad over the summer and are sure to play well in the Europa League. The last few years we’ve had a good run against Betis. We hope to come home with the win on Sunday and all three points.”
Athletic could be without Iker Muniain this weekend as the player is still dealing with a calf bruise that he suffered against Real Madrid. Beñat said that if Muniain isn’t able to play it would be a big loss for the team, but believes that the Lions will still have plenty of confidence. According to Beñat, if Athletic continues to play with the same intensity they stand a very good chance of qualifying for Europe this season.
“If Iker [Muniain] can’t play it will be a big loss for us, just like any other games. It will depend on how he recovers. If he isn’t able to play the team will still have confidence. We all go as one and it shows on the field. If we all pull in the same direction we can have a beautiful season. We must continue to play with the same intensity that we did against Real Madrid…to control possession and score more goals. The more we continue to improve the harder it will be to beat us. I see this team fighting for Europe.”
Athletic are currently tied for 8th in the La Liga table, but still have one game in hand. The Basques could climb as high as 3rd with a win on Sunday and are keen to continue their unbeaten run to start the season. If Muniain isn’t able to play it will be up to Berizzo to adjust the starting lineup, but the Lions should see the return of Aritz Aduriz who missed one month of action with a hamstring injury.