Eduardo Berizzo “Our Motivation Can’t Depend On The Team We’re Playing Against”
Athletic Club are coming off of a strong showing against Real Madrid and are looking to keep their unbeaten streak alive on Sunday when they travel to take on Real Betis at the Benito Villamarín. It will be the first away game of the season and the Lions could be without Iker Muniain and Aritz Aduriz who have both been dealing with discomfort. Eduardo Berizzo gave his pregame press conference on Friday and made it clear that no one has been ruled out yet.
“Nobody has been ruled out at this point. We will see if Iker [Muniain] and Aduriz are available. They could play depending on how they recover. Iker has been training well the last few days and we will evaluate Aduriz’s muscle tomorrow. We have other options if they are absent. Iñaki is the main backup at striker, but we also have others like Raúl [García], Iker, and Guruzeta. I want Nolaskoain to play with Bilbao Athletic this weekend and Herrerín isn’t available yet. I value Balenziaga so he has to be ready just like everyone else.”
With Athletic playing three games in seven days the manager is aware that he will need to be careful with the players. That being said, he isn’t planning anything specific for rotations and will base his lineups on how the squad is performing during training every day. Berizzo trusts the entire squad and is taking it one game at a time.
“We will have to be careful with players because we have three games in seven days, but our goal is to play a serious match. There will not be a mass rotation because we are able to play the games that are facing us. I base the starters of each match on the work during the week and the opponent we are playing. There are matches that require one quality over another and I use the most appropriate player in those cases. Our opponents played last night which will affect their lineup on Sunday. Ours could be affected by absences.”
Real Betis will present a difficult opponent for the Lions. Even though they have only scored one goal so far this season Berizzo is wary of Betis’s ability to control the ball and dictate the pace of play. He wants to see the Lions pressing and believes that they can force their hosts to make mistakes if they play their style of football.
“Betis like to play with three defenders but sometimes they have five back so we must be prepared from a tactical standpoint to be able to play comfortably. We recognize they haven’t scored a goal in a while and I hope that continues, but they control the ball and pass well. The team is faithful to the coach’s ideas and we will have to adjust the pressure accordingly. We need to steal the ball in dangerous areas and be prepared for a demanding game. If we adapt to the game and play our way we can make our opponent uncomfortable.”
Berizzo admitted that the system could be altered slightly on Sunday, but the basis of their style of football will be the same. At the end of the day he wants to see Athletic playing with the same intensity and determination that characterized their game against Real Madrid. Regardless of who the opponent may be, Berizzo believes that Athletic can continue their strong run of form but it will be up to the players to keep the rhythm going.
“Our system could vary. I always plan to use a 4-3-3 but when you are facing three or five defenders you have to change some things. It’s important to press wisely and have possession. We will have to control the rhythm so that our intensity doesn’t lead to mistakes. They can use the wings well so we have to protect our sides. Our game against Real Madrid compels us to do more, not to relax. Having a good performance should demand more and put us on a level that we cannot allow ourselves to fall from. Our motivation can’t depend on the team we’re playing against. We must always prepare with the same vigor and play with the same intensity every game.”
Athletic currently sit tied for 8th in the La Liga table and still have one game in hand. If they are able to come away with a victory on Sunday they could climb as high as third. The Lions have already shown what they are capable of against Real Madrid and the players have said on multiple occasions that there is no excuse for not playing at the same level moving forward. Sunday’s match presents Athletic with the chance to remain unbeaten and build on their strong start to the season.