Iñigo Martinez “We Will Fight For Europe Until The Death”
After sitting out Thursday’s training session, Iñigo Martinez is ready to play in Sunday’s match against Rayo Vallecano. The defender spoke to the media on Friday following training and said that he is feeling fine, but also that he hopes Oscar De Marcos is cleared for the fixture. It will be Atheltic’s second straight game during the new Sunday time slot and Martinez admitted that it’s weird.
“I trained with the team today. I felt comfortable but I had to rest a day. De Marcos had a small bump, but we hope that he is going to be ok for the weekend because he’s a player who contributes a lot to this team. We are having problems with the right side of the field. Ibai and Ander are injured, but I’m sure whoever replaces them will do well. I don’t like playing at 2:00pm. It’s rare, but we are professionals and we have to face it and make the best of it no matter what the time is.”
Make no mistakes about it, Sunday’s match is crucial. The Lions are currently three points off of six place in the table and every point matters with just seven games left to be played.
“It’s an important match. Rayo is a strong team and we have to win the game. It’s going to be a big step for us. Every fixture is important, but the ones that we play at home are a matter of life and death. We are Athletic Club. When we play at home we have to win. We have options for Europe and we will fight until the death. I hope that we are up there. On Sunday we play at home. We have to take that next step because there is a month left and we have to give everything in this final stretch.”
Martinez knows that Rayo will be a dangerous opponent. They may take a lot of risks, which is dangerous but can also come with a lot of rewards. Athletic will need to press their visitors early on to control the pace of play and the ball.
“Rayo always tries to play the ball from behind. They risk a lot, sometimes too much, but that’s their coach’s style. They showed the kind of team they are against Valencia, but we have the option to win. We have to control the ball, play a high line, and pressure them to recover the ball. We have fast players up to top. They have Raúl de Tomás who is a striker that is managing to do very well.”
Iñigo Martinez has formed one of the best center-back pairings in Europe alongside Yeray. Their fantastic form has left Unai Nuñez without many chances. “Unai has been on the bench a lot, but he can play at any time”, said Martinez. “He has potential. He’s young and we are all fighting to play as much as possible. When he plays he does wonderfully. He’s already shown what kind of defender he is.” With three impressive center-backs in the team, Athletic have quickly become one of the best defensive sides in La Liga.