Eduardo Berizzo Has Difficult Decisions To Make Ahead Of Wednesday’s Copa Del Rey Match
You’ve heard it before and you’re going to hear it again. Athletic have gone 12 straight games in La Liga without a win. It’s the worse winless streak in league play in the club’s history and they current sit 18th in the table. The team has a lot to work on and improve, but for right now they will have to shift their attention to another matter. In just two days Athletic’s Copa del Rey campaign will begin.
Athletic will welcome Huesca to the San Mamés on Wednesday in the first leg of their Copa del Rey tie and the match is coming at a bad time. Raúl García and Mikel Balenziaga were both injured during Sunday’s draw against Espanyol and look certain to miss the fixture. Thankfully, Yuri Berchiche will be available. He is still serving a three game suspension in La Liga, but that does not carry over to the cup.
Replacing García will be difficult. There is already a chance that he was going to be rested in the cup match, but not even having him available is a big loss for the Lions. He’s consistently been one of the most dangerous players for Athletic and others will have to step up in his absence. Berizzo could turn to Unai López in his place, or perhaps bring Dani García back into the lineup after the midfielder spent Sunday’s match against Getafe on the bench. Regardless, neither player offers the same offensive threat as Raúl García.
There is hope that Mikel Rico will be available to play, but at the moment his status is unknown. The 34-year-old suffered an ankle injury two weeks ago in a friendly against Deportivo and still hasn’t been able to return to training. At the same time, Yeray rejoined his teammates last week and, although he wasn’t cleared to play against Getafe, he could be given the green light for Wednesday’s match at the San Mamés.
Along with injuries, Berizzo will have to be wise with how he rotates the team. The fact that the players are just coming off of a two-week international break should help with fatigue, but the team will be back in La Liga action on Monday night against Levante and will need to be at their best if they are finally going to pick up a vital win. Balancing two different competitions is never easy, but it’s even more difficult when a team is in a situation like this.
If the Zurigorri are able to get a big win on Wednesday it could be just the thing to jump-start their season. However, if several key players are in the starting lineup and the Lions are unable to come away with a positive result it could do even more damage. With just two days to prepare for the Copa del Rey fixture Berizzo has several big decisions to make and Athletic can’t afford to make any more mistakes.