Joseba Etxeberria “The Team Has An Identity”
Bilbao Athletic began 2020 in the best way possible as the Kumeak defeated Alavés B 1-0 at Lezama on Saturday to pick up an important three points. Manager Joseba Etxeberria celebrated with the players after the final whistle, showing the magnitude of the victory. While the team had opportunities to score even more goals, it wasn’t an easy match against a direct rival.
“It was an evenly disputed match,” Etxeberria told reporters after the game. “It was more difficult for us in many phases to play our game and when we could, we attacked. We created chances and we’re happy with the way we ended the first round of the season with clean sheets in the final two games.”
With half of the season in the books Bilbao Athletic currently sit third in the table and have been one of the best teams in all of the Segunda B. Etxeberria shared his pride in the fact that the team has a defined style of player and have been able to overcome injuries.
“The team has an identity. We can be more or less successful, but we know how to play with and without the ball. Despite injuries and casualties, especially in attack, we are very happy. The team is engaged, regardless of the victories, which is what I like to see in the dressing room. What matters most to us is to see players for the future. We are satisfied with what we see in the competition. The players are young and they will have ups and downs.”
Juan Artola was one of the stars of the game as he made his return following a suspension. The winger scored the only goal and would have had even more if not for a few great saves from the goalkeeper.
“Artola is one of those who can play anywhere in attack, especially out wide like Morcillo. I like that they always go in the direction of the goal because we want vertical players. Morcillo has eight goals and Artola has seven after today and could have even more. Hopefully they continue with this precision.”
There was a bit of a surprise at Lezama as Dani Vivian didn’t feature in the match. The defender has missed several months with a back injury and was expected to see the field on some level. “He didn’t play out of caution,” the manager explained. “After consulting with Gaizka and Patxi we decided that it was better for him to have more training sessions and wait a few more days. He will play the next game.”
Speaking of injuries, Gorka Guruzeta nearly played the entire 90 minutes for the first time since returning from ACL surgery. “The physical demand isn’t easy after a long injury like his, but he’s been playing more and at a high level,” said Etxeberria. “By circumstance he’s with us but always with a view for the future. He looks more and more like the Guru we know and want.”
In closing, the manager was asked about the possibility of having a few players called up for the first team’s trip to Sestao River next weekend. “Everyone has to be prepared,” he responded. “The players all know that they could be called, but the last step is the most difficult. The pace of the Primera is like flying and you have to have the humility to give everything. We want complete players who will compete.”
Bilbao Athletic have been one of the favorites to qualify for the promotional playoffs since the start of the season and have been at a good level under Etxeberria. With two big wins in a row the Kumeak will now turn their sights to Haro Deportivo who will visit Lezama next weekend.