Eduardo Berizzo “We Have Shown What We Can Be”

Eduardo Berizzo

Eduardo Berizzo believes his team has played well so far this season (AC)

Athletic Club have been hard at work over the past two days preparing for Wednesday’s match against Villarreal at the San Mamés. On Tuesday, manager Eduardo Berizzo appeared before the media to give his pregame press conference and made it a point to say that the results don’t accurately reflect how well Athletic have been playing to start the season.

“After the game I reviewed what we did wrong in the first and second halves. Throughout the game there was positive and negative things. In the first half our pressure allowed us to steal the ball and attack with aggression, but in the second half they kept us from being able to attack. We look at the first half as the example of what this team will always try to be. We can have a convincing performance and only get a point, or a lackluster game and get all three. I don’t let it get obscured by the numbers. We have shown what we can be.”

Berizzo went on to discuss potential changes in the lineup for the game against Villarreal. He admitted that both Unai Nuñez and Peru Nolaskoain could start due to the need of rotations after a demanding game against Real Betis over the weekend.

“Unai Nuñez and Peru Nolaskoain are options to play. Peru can play as a center-back or in the midfielder where we have a lot of options. When I see that he isn’t going to be among our 18 I don’t want him to spend the weekend without playing. That is why he played with Bilbao Athletic. Nuñez is a serious option tomorrow because the last game demanded so much from Yeray and Iñigo [Martinez]. Aduriz can play. In fact, he trained normally today and is cleared.”

Gorka Guruzeta and Iñigo Córdoba are both options to start in place of Markel Susaeta who is suspended for the match after being sent off against Real Betis. Berizzo says that both young players have to be ready to make the most of their opportunities, while also admitting that Cristian Ganea hasn’t played due to having competition in his position.

Aritz Aduriz

Aritz Aduriz has been cleared to play against Villarreal (AS)

“Guruzeta is an option to start with Susaeta out. He is a player waiting for his opportunity and has a lot of energy. He and Córdoba are young players who are waiting for their chance. In the preseason Ganea suffered a setback, but that’s in the past now. He has been doing well and his lack of minutes aren’t because of production. It’s because of an overbooking of players. Everybody has to be ready. Choosing a lineup will be based on how the squad as a whole has recovered. If I’m correct I imagine that there will be a few changes. The energy of today’s training shows me that the players are almost fully recovered from the previous match.”

In closing, Berizzo stated that Villarreal will be a tough opponent. Their strength on the wings and in the midfield will make things difficult for Athletic and the manager revealed that the Lions will not use a double pivot on Wednesday. The goal, as always, is to use intense pressure to cause turnovers and attack in numbers.

“Villarreal is not a comfortable opponent and they like to have possession. I don’t think the results reflect the level that are playing. Now they are using a more traditional 4-4-2 and have very good players, especially their midfielders and forwards. They have strength on the wings and pivots who can come up from the second line. At Sevilla I used a 4-4-2 but that was because of the type of squad I had which demanded that. Sometimes you scheme for the opponent, sometimes it is to take advantage of the players you have. In the last two games playing with two pivots has given us consistency, but tomorrow we will return to a true 4-3-3. We have to put pressure on their pivots because that will be fundamental. Our idea is always to take away the ball.”

Athletic may be unbeaten to start the La Liga season, but so far they only have one win to show for it. The Lions have been in tremendous form and are hoping to pick up three important points against Villarreal to start really climbing the league table. With the return of Aduriz and potential rotations to the team there should be fresh energy at the San Mamés on Wednesday and the fans will certainly be there to make the stadium roar.

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