Previewing Osasuna vs Athletic Club: LaLiga Matchday 14
Athletic want to silence El Sadar. Osasuna have gone 31 straight games without a loss at home and the Lions are determined to bring that run to an end this weekend and continue their own streak of three consecutive wins in Pamplona. The trip to Navarra will be Athletic’s third Basque Derby of the season and the team hopes to remain perfect following wins over Real Sociedad and Alavés earlier in the campaign.
The fact that Athetic have yet to win a game on the road this season adds another dimension to the Derby. Gaizka Garitano’s side currently sit sixth in the La Liga table but are still searching for the first victory outside of San Mamés and believe it could finally come at El Sadar. Doing so would require ending Osasuna’s streak at home but this wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened.
Osasuna’s unbeaten run is the longest in club history. Previously, Los Rojillos had gone 30 consecutive games without a defeat until finally suffering an 8-1 loss in January of 1959 to none other than Athletic. Getting a positive result, especially a win, at El Sadar will be a massive challenge for the Zurigorri who will be without a number of important players.
During the week Iker Muniain suffered a hamstring injury that will keep him sidelined until January. Replacing the captain won’t be easy and Garitano will also have to do without Aritz Aduriz who is still nursing a hip injury. Beñat and Oscar De Marcos both returned to training following ankle injuries but were left out of the squad out of precaution.
Meanwhile, Osasuna manager Jagoba Arrasate will have absences of his own to overcome. Midfielder Oier Sanjurjo will miss out due to suspension while center-back Aridane Hernández is recovering from a muscle injury. Both players have been vital to the team’s success this season as has Chimy Avíla who will make his return from suspension and could have a major impact on the game.
There may be adversity on both sides and a historic streak on the line, but Sunday’s match is a Basque Derby and that means that anything can happen. Just one point separates the two in the table and a win for either team would be a big result. Osasuna’s attacking style will be contrasted by Athletic’s superb defending but, once again, this is a fixture that will likely be won or lost in the midfield.
If Dani García is able to control the center of the pitch Athletic could very well return to Bilbao with three points. That being said, the forwards must also finish their chances in front of goal, which has been a serious issue this season. One thing is certain though, Osasuna will be a fierce opponent. Athletic have won their last three trips to El Sadar and are confident that they can do it again.
Projected Athletic Club XI: Unai Simón, Ander Capa, Yeray, Iñigo Martinez, Yuri Berchiche, Dani García, Unai López, Ibai Gómez, Raúl García, Iñigo Córdoba, Iñaki Williams