Eduardo Berizzo “I Would Like To Break The Bad Streak Against Espanyol”
Athletic have gone nine consecutive games without a win and are in desperate need of points. The Lions travel to Barcelona on Monday to take on Espanyol in what will be a very difficult game. On Sunday Eduardo Berizzo gave his pregame press conference and made it clear that his team will need to press will to successfully slow down Espanyol’s dangerous forwards.
“There were different nuances against Valencia. The lineup had a lot of different players the other day, but we did not change our style of play. We had played three games in six days so the changes were necessary. Tomorrow we have many options in the midfield. Our intention is always to have the play. We will have to press tightly so as not to give any advantage to their attackers.”
Berizzo was not shy about the fact that Espanyol are paying great football as of late. He is aware that Athletic will have to play their best if they want to win at RCDE Stadium, highlighting their opponent’s creative midfielders and dangerous attackers.
“Yes, Espanyol have found a dynamic system and confidence that has transformed them into a solid team. We will have to have a great performance to beat them. They always like to have the ball with players in the midfield that combine very well and create chances for their attackers. Their forwards are decisive players. I’ve known Borja Iglesias since Celta and I’m very happy about how he’s doing. He is a spectacular person. He is great form and tomorrow we will have to be aware of him and his teammates.”
Athletic have not beaten Espanyol on the road in league play since January of 1998. It is an almost unbelievable streak and one that Berizzo would like to put an end to on Monday. That being said, the manager really doesn’t concern himself with historic matches and records as he believes they don’t have anything to do with current fixtures.
“I never look at the statistics prior to a match. They are not a part of it, but of course I would like to break the bad streak against Espanyol. I demand everything from the team, even in training so that everyone is getting better. Coaches have to be concerned with improving. We did well against Valencia because we played with physicality and strength. Of course we can play better. We recovered the ball well, had confidence, and we continue to demand better play.”
Berizzo was then asked about the fact that Ander Iturraspe hasn’t been called up for a match since the game against Villarreal on 26 September. The manager admitted that there are other players in that position, but stated that the 29-year-old will have his chances in upcoming fixtures.
“We have a player in Dani [García] that covers his position. Peru [Nolaskoain] can also play in defense or in the midfield. Itu will have his opportunity in the coming games. It isn’t something predetermined and it isn’t about excluding players at all. Sometimes it’s hard to be fair. I have to refer to how he trains and I would love to be able to call up 25 players.”
Athletic face a difficult schedule in the month of November, but Berizzo prefers to take it one game at a time. He knows that La Liga is a difficult competition and wants to see his team find more consistency in their performances. At this point in the season the entire squad is available and Berizzo will always make his selections based on current form as well as the upcoming opponent.
“I think it’s more important to go week by week than to diagnose an entire month. This league is difficult and surprises happen. There are a lot of points to play for and each victory allows you to jump positions in the table. You have to take advantage of opportunities and find a consistency and reliability, which has been our problem. From a physical aspect everyone is available. When I choose a squad I base it off of the performances throughout the week and the opponent we will be playing against.”
When it comes to the starting lineup, Berizzo has many different options to choose from. The team has now gone eight days since their last game which means that everyone should be fresh and ready to face Espanyol with aggressiveness and intensity. It will be an extremely difficult game for the Basques, but they are desperate for a win and there will be absolutely no excuse if Athletic don’t put in a solid performance on Monday night.