Unai Nuñez “I Don’t Care Who The Opponent Is, What I Like Is Playing And Defending”
Unai Nuñez hasn’t played a game since mid-January, but that will change this weekend. With Iñigo Martinez suspended, the 22-year-old will be starting alongside Yeray as Athletic host Atlético Madrid at San Mamés. Nuñez took the time to address the media after Wednesday’s training session and made it clear that he’s been training hard so that he can make the most of this opportunity.
“The coach will change the lineup because Iñigo Martinez is suspended. That opens the door for Peru [Nolaskoain] and me. This is part of football. He’s the one who decides who plays and I’m training to be as good as possible. I have to keep working and make the coach have a difficult decision, then he decides. Everybody wants to play and when I’m on the field I will do my best. I’ve been preparing myself to the fullest for when I’m given the opportunity.”
Nuñez is aware that taking a starting role away from Yeray or Martinez is extremely difficult. Both have been playing at a high level, but the defender says that he didn’t consider leaving the club in January despite rumors that there were offers on the table.
“The two and the whole team have been in very good shape, taking out the last two games that have been a bit of a bump. I have a contract and while I’m here I will give my best, whether I’m playing or not. I did not consider leaving in January. Those decisions have to be made by those above me. My job is to play and train.”
Saturday’s fixture against Atlético Madrid won’t be easy. Diego Simeone’s side may play defensive football, but they also have dangerous players in attack. Nuñez isn’t worried about the matchup. He’s happy to be on the field defending no matter who the opponent is.
“I don’t care who the opponent is, what I like is playing and defending. It doesn’t matter if it’s Griezmann, Morata, or another player. I face it like any other match. I have been preparing myself to give my best when I’m given the opportunity. There is no shame. If I play I’m going to do my best. I’m not worried.”
The Lezama product might not be worried about the opponent, but he also recognizes that Atlético is a great team. They may have just been eliminated from Europe, but Saturday’s match will also be a chance for them to respond. It won’t be easy, but Athletic will play for all three points.
“Atlético de Madrid is a great team, they’ve been showing that for several years, but we are going to go for the three points. They had a slip in the Champions League, but for them Saturday is another competition. We have to watch them and not lose focus on ourselves. We have set ourselves the objective of improving both defensively and offensively.”
Being without Iñigo Martinez makes things difficult for Athletic, but Unai Nuñez is confident that he can fill the void. That being said, Ander Capa is still out with a strained hamstring and Mikel Balenziaga has missed the last two days of training. Gaizka Garitano could have a very thin backline, but with the international break just around the corner, the Lions will show no fear.