Mikel Balenziaga Leaves Training Early, Unai Nuñez In Line To Start Against Atlético Madrid
The international break will start next week and it comes at a good time for Athletic. The Lions have been in good form under manager Gaizka Garitano and having time to refocus and rest is needed. The stoppage will also allow injured players like Ander Capa and Aritz Aduriz to be reintegrated into the team before the final stretch of the season. However, Athletic have one more game to play before they can take advantage of the time off.
On Saturday the Lions welcome Atlético Madrid to San Mamés in what will be a difficult fixture. Garitano will be spending this week preparing for Los Colchoneros, but there was a bit of bad news in training on Tuesday. Mikel Balenziaga was forced to leave the session early and didn’t return. At this point, the club has yet to issue any form of medical update which could mean that the left-back was removed out of precaution or was just dealing with discomfort.
In theory, if Balenziaga is unable to play this weekend it shouldn’t hurt the team too much. Yuri Berchiche is the starting left-back which means that Balenziga would on the bench. That being said, Athletic will also be without Ander Capa, who is injured, as well as Iñigo Martinez, who will be serving a suspension due to yellow card accumulation. Garitano will be left with only Berchiche and De Marcos as fullbacks unless he chooses to call up Iñigo Lekue who is finally healthy but has yet to play a single minute this season.
With Martinez unavailable Unai Nuñez will start in his place. The 22-year-old has spent the last two days of training working alongside Yeray, which was to be expected. It should be noted that the pair has struggled at times when on the field together, though Garitano believes that both can do well together in Athletic’s organized defensive system. The Mister won’t have a lot of options in the backline, but he is confident in the players who are available.