Previewing Arenas Club vs Athletic Club
Athletic football is just around the corner. After two weeks of training, the Lions will play their first friendly of the summer on Saturday when they travel down the right to Fadura for a match against local Bizkaian club Arenas. Gaizka Garitano will have the opportunity to test his team against a familiar opponent before Athletic travel to Germany on Sunday for a week-long training trip.
Predicting a starting lineup is nearly impossible for friendlies so early in the summer, but there are a few players who definitely won’t be participating. Iñigo Martinez has been training apart from his teammates and Iñigo Lekue is still recovering from a pulled muscle. Meanwhile, Unai Simón and Unai Nuñez are both still on vacation and haven’t joined the teammates yet. Beñat is also expected to miss out due to discomfort, though his status is uncertain at the moment.
The absences will see several players handed important minutes as they look to impress Garitano. Unai López has worked heavily alongside Dani García this summer and could partner together in the midfield on Saturday. Dani Vivian also figures to enjoy a great opportunity with Yeray the only other true center-back in the team at the moment. Others such as Iñigo Vicente, Asier Villalibre, Oihan Sancet, Mikel Vesga, Peru Nolaskoain, Hodei Oleaga, and Jokin Ezkieta are in need of a good showing.
Results matter very little when it comes to summer friendlies, but the Lions will be hoping to secure a solid victory to start the preseason off well and start building momentum. Garitano will likely make several changes to the lineup at halftime and continue to bring on substitutes throughout the second half. With an entire summer to put his system in place, Garitano will be watching closely as he looks to put together the strongest team possible to compete for Europe this year.
Projected Athletic Club XI: Hodei Oleaga, Ander Capa, Yeray, Dani Vivian, Mikel Balenziaga, Dani García, Unai López, Gaizka Larrazabal, Iñigo Vicente, Iñigo Córdoba, Asier Villalibre