Unai López “We Aren’t Afraid Of Anything Anymore”
This hasn’t been the season that Unai López expected. After a brilliant loan spell with Rayo Vallecano last year, the midfielder signed a contract extension with Athletic over the summer and figured to play a significant role in Eduardo Berizzo’s team. López was included in the starting lineup for the opening match but quickly saw his chances fade away.
Over the weekend the 23-year-old came on for Dani García in the 58th minute, playing his first league minutes since October. Despite his lack of chances, López was impressive in the win over Rayo. “It was a special match for me”, he recently told Oye Como Va of Radio Popular”. “Rayo have big goals, but it’s also a team that generates opportunities and that’s how it was for me. I like how they play. The results have not been kind, but for me it’s a special club because of the beautiful things I experienced there. I wish them the best.”
López went on to explain that it wasn’t easy going from playing every weekend at Rayo to fighting for minutes back at Athletic. “After the great year at Vallecas, it isn’t easy to start from scratch”, he admitted. “On Sunday I was more than ready to face Rayo and help my teammates. I had a lot of desire to be back on the field after going so long without playing. I have learned many things this year. For example, I have to be strong when things aren’t going well and continue training hard.”
With Dani García potentially out for the rest of the season with a muscle injury, López will have a better chance at getting on the field. He firmly stated that Athletic aren’t afraid of anything after overcoming the struggles from earlier this season.
“We know that we have to play a lot better, but after what we’ve experienced this year we aren’t afraid of anything anymore. We are in the fight after what we suffered in the locker room. It’s important to be able to fight for Europe. I didn’t have the opportunity to leave on loan in the winter. I am working to have minutes here and I see myself as well-trained for the opportunities. We are only focusing on our next match. The Santiago Bernabéu is a difficult field and we will play one of the best teams in the world, although they haven’t had their type of year.”
Athletic currently sit 7th in the La Liga table which should be enough to qualify for Europe. However, there are still six games left to be played which means that nothing is guaranteed. Sunday’s trip to Real Madrid will be massive for the Zurigorri to keep pace in their race for Europe.