Yuri Berchiche “We Will Have To Overcome Adversity To Win”
There’s a reason Yuri Berchiche has played more minutes than any other Athletic player this season. The left-back has established himself as one of the most important players in the lineup, but his first season at San Mamés didn’t start well. In a press conference following training on Wednesday, Berchiche admitted that he didn’t come into the campaign in the best shape.
“My physical state at the beginning of the season wasn’t the best. Things could have been done better. I was dead by the 80th minute and I didn’t have legs. I tried to recover that little by little with Gaizka and I think that, from a physical preparation aspect, I’m at my best now. It’s been a season of less to more and right now I’m at my best and it’s a shame that it’s about to be over.”
It’s no surprise that Berchiche has rediscovered his best form under manager Gaizka Garitano. The two worked together at Eibar and are now finding success at Athletic. Berchiche believes that he is now playing his best football and that he will be even better next season.
“I’ve been with Gaizka for three years now and with Patxi. I know how to work with them and it’s a luxury for me. The weeks have been calm and the important things are the matches. I know that I can still give more. My first year at a new club has always been the hardest and in the second you can see the best Yuri. I’ve played a lot of minutes and I feel lucky. I have respected injuries since the beginning of the season and my career has been like this.”
Athletic will play their final game of the season on Saturday against Sevilla, but the players aren’t happy about the time. Kickoff will take place during one of the hottest times of the day in a city that is known for high humidity. Berchiche voiced his displeasure with the scheduling and doesn’t think the players are being protected.
“I’m not in favor of playing at that time and sometimes I think we’re being teased because they’ve changed the schedule three times. We’re being taken for a ride. There is someone who is laughing at us having to play in the heat and humidity at 4 in the afternoon. I don’t recommend it to anyone in Seville because of the heat. Scheduling the game at that time seems crazy.”
Regardless of the kickoff time, Saturday’s match is a final. If Athletic win they will finish 6th but even a draw will guarantee 7th place and a spot in the Europa League. However, if the Basques lose they will be in danger of falling out of the top 7. Berchiche says the team must take the game seriously and not play for a draw.
“This is an important game for us, a final, and we have to prepare for it as such. I want to play in this final and we will have to make a great effort against Sevilla. We will have to overcome adversity to win. The mentality isn’t easy because a draw would be enough for Europe. We go to win the game. We’re training well and must see where we can attack Sevilla and go for it all. The hope is finishing 6th, but if we get a point it will be a very successful season.”
After the way the season started, it’s hard to believe that Athletic are in a position to qualify for Europe. The team has completely turned the year around under Gaizka Garitano and it all comes down to Saturday’s match. With everything on the line, fans should expect a motivated and serious performance from the Zurigorri.