Unai Núñez Struggles In Opportunity To Start Against Atlético Madrid
Unai Núñez isn’t happy with his role at Athletic. Over the past year the defender has barely seen the field and is reluctant to sign an improved contract without the guarantee of more consistent playing time. When asked about the issue in interviews, Núñez has made it clear that he believes he’s on the same level as Yeray and Iñigo Martinez and is determined to prove that he should have more chances in the lineup.
The 22-year-old got that chance on Saturday night as Athletic faced off with Atlético Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano. It was a big stage for the Lezama product and the perfect opportunity to make his case for more minutes. However, the match didn’t go as well as he would’ve hoped and Núñez was arguably Athletic’s most disappointing player throughout the 90 minutes.
Not only did Núñez struggle to deal with Angel Correa for the entire game, but he was in position to prevent both of Atlético’s goals and wasn’t able to do so. The first moment came when Correa set up Saul for the opener in the first half. Núñez was beaten by the forward’s first touch then failed to win the ball when Correa cut back onto his right foot before providing the assist.
In the second half, Correa had yet another assist where Núñez could have blocked the cross. The defender wasn’t able to make contact with the ball which found Alvaro Morata at the far post for an easy finish. Truthfully, conceding this goal wasn’t his fault at all and the first goal was more brilliance form Correa than an error from Núñez. However, for a player determined to earn more minutes the 22-year-old wasn’t able to make the most of this opportunity.
Núñez wasn’t the only Athletic player to put in a poor shift in Madrid. Unai Simón made several questionable decisions while Yuri Berchiche looked very much like a player who has been sidelined for the past few weeks. That being said, with all the drama surrounding his ongoing renewal negotiations Unai Núñez didn’t do himself any favors with the performance against Atlético and will likely be back on the bench in Athletic’s next game with Yeray returning to the lineup.