Iñigo Córdoba “The Team Needed A Victory Like This”
The crisis is over, at least for now. Athletic put an end to their five-game winless streak on Wednesday night with an emphatic 3-0 victory over Espanyol at San Mamés. While it wasn’t the best performance of the season, it was a big statement from the Lions who are serious about competing for European qualification. This result will also go a long way in helping build confidence with more difficult games to come.
“It was important to win because the teams below are getting closer”, Iñigo Córdoba told Athletic TV after the match. “This gives us more peace of mind to look up. The team needed a victory like this. We are working well and will try to continue along this line. We will go home happy.”
Athletic fans were growing more concerned every day during the streak, but the players knew that they would be able to turn the situation around. “You have to be calm”, continued Córdoba. “The league is quite long. We have 16 points and I think this is five more than we had last year at this time and we saw how we finished the competition. We are going to improve little by little. If we continue with the dynamics that we all have together, we will get more things.”
Córdoba has actually received harsh criticism from fans over the past year and teammate Yuri Berchiche came to his defense after the match. “I am a fullback and his work rate helps me”, said the 29-year-old. “We understand each other and have confidence. He will have better and worse games, like every player.”
Berchiche played his second game since returning from a dislocated shoulder and looked much better than in Saturday’s loss to Atlético Madrid. “The manager is letting me play, I will have time to recover in the summer.” The left-back hasn’t suffered any setbacks and will continue to be available to the manager.
For his part, Mikel San José also recognized the magnitude of the win at San Mamés. “It’s a very important victory for us because it gives strength and helps us look up the table. We must try to maintain this effectiveness against Villarreal.” The midfielder made just his second appearance of the season but figures to have a more important role moving forward with both Unai López and Beñat sidelined by injuries.
The win over Espanyol lifted Athletic to 8th in the La Liga table and the Lions will now have the opportunity to climb even higher when they visit Villarreal on Sunday. It will be yet another challenging game for the Basques who are eager to prove that they can contend for a place in Europe. The Yellow Submarine have been one of the most exciting attacking teams in La Liga this season which will be a real test for Athletic’s impressive defense.