Eduardo Berizzo “This Is An Opportunity For Us To Show What We Are Capable Of”
Athletic are coming off of their first loss of the season and desperately want to put it in the past. That may be difficult to do with the Lions traveling to take on Barcelona at the Camp Nou on Saturday. Eduardo Berizzo gave his pregame press conference following Friday’s training session and said that the fixture presents the team with an opportunity to show what they can really do.
“Barcelona are a great team with a great coach. When they concede they become dangerous, but after they’ve scored they are full of confidence. For us this is the maximum tests and I could repeat the same words I said before we played Real Madrid. They are a difficult opponents, but that presents us with an opportunity. Teams that take risks end up getting good things even if they make some mistakes along the way. The difficulties exist, but this is an opportunity for us to show what we are capable of.”
Possession will be important on Saturday. Barcelona like to enjoy long stretches with the ball, but Berizzo says that his team will try to make them uncomfortable and force turnovers in dangerous areas. The manager knows that Lionel Messi will always demand attention, but wants to focus on the opponents’s as a whole because the entire team is strong.
“Our plan is to steal the ball and make good use of it when we have it. There aren’t many times in life that you get to go play at the Camp Nou. It’s never a game you enjoy, but it’s a privilege to play. Messi’s presence requires a lot of attention, but it’s nothing that hasn’t been done before. I don’t imagine that we will suffer just because of him. The whole team is strong. You must stay compact because they will make you pay for any mistakes. We have to defend far from the box. I hope that there are no prolonged times where we have to defend because that can be dangerous.”
Berizzo has received a lot of criticism following Wednesday’s loss to Villarreal due to the way he rotated the team. Toto told the reporters that managers will always get criticized when things don’t work out well, but says that the only thing he is focused on is helping the team be successful.
“Why do you want to criticize me for rotations and the lineup. At Celta I rotate very little and was criticized for it then at Sevilla I did it a lot and the same thing happened. Every coach is exposed to criticism because of their decisions. It’s always easier to comment on the game after it has ended. I’m always thinking about what is best for the team. Sometimes the plans work and sometimes they don’t.”
In closing Berizzo said that the entire team has recovered well from the matches against Real Betis and Villarreal and that everyone is available to play against Barcelona. Aritz Aduriz is finally back in the squad, but the manager doesn’t know yet if the 37-year-old will be in the starting lineup. The staff wants to take it easy with Aduriz after seeing the striker miss so much time with muscle injuries.
“The team is fine and recovered. We are coming from a game that left us feeling sour and we must react. We are disappointed. When you lose you need to reach correctly. The defeated force you to review what you did wrong. Aduriz is doing well and he’s in the squad to play. I don’t know if he can play the whole game, but he is a solution. We count on his total recovery and in a short time he will be able to play a complete game. He’s a great footballer who is dangerous from the first minute until the last. The circumstances surrounding his return, having been injury, makes us want to be cautious with him until he can play a whole game. He is a starting player for us, but can also be dangerous as a substitute.”
Aritz Aduriz won’t be the only player back in the squad. Dani García and Markel Susaeta are both expected to return to the starting lineup after missing Wednesday’s match. The duo have been key players for the team so far this season and hoping to play a big role against Barcelona as well. As always, it definitely won’t be an easy game but the Lions are eager to respond and will be looking to steal all three points at the Camp Nou.