Iñigo Martinez “It’s A Very Dangerous Game Because They Need Points”
Iñigo Martinez has played a massive role in Athletic’s success this season as he and Yeray have formed one of football’s best defensive partnerships. On Sunday the Lions will have the opportunity to climb further up the league table as they host Celta Vigo, but Martinez and the rest of the team will have to be at their best to stave off a side desperate for points.
“It’s a very dangerous game because they need points,” highlighted the defender during Thursday’s press conference. “They want to get out of those bad positions and they have very good players. It’s also not easy to face Athletic because we are a very generous team with effort and pressure. We always make it difficult for opponents to create chances so nobody can relax.”
Athletic current sit just two points off of 5th place in the La Liga table and have been in the discussion for European qualification all season. Martinez agrees that the team has had success, but warns that they must continue taking the campaign one game at a time.
“We’ve done well and we’ve shown the level that the team can give every weekend. The most important thing is to be competitive until the end and we are. Our duty must always be to finish as high as possible. It would be a mistake to set a specific goal, but we have to be consistent. The important thing is to go day by day.”
Although Martinez is adamant that Athletic can’t look too far ahead, he’s also confident that the team should be able to compete for a place in Europe. For that to happen, the Basques will have to overcome strong competition from other clubs.
“Of course with these 29 points it’s possible to qualify for Europe or even the Champions League. The goal is always to be up there in the table and finish the year in Europe. That should always be the goal and if you can do more that’s great, but we also know won’t be easy. There are many good teams that have gotten stronger but we are a competitive team.”
On a personal level, Martinez has been one of the best center-backs in La Liga this season with many saying that he’s been the top player at his position. “I won’t go into those details,” he responded when asked if he agrees. “Some put me higher or lower but I have been playing well for years and I know how this works. I’m doing well. I’m in a sweet moment and I hope to continue like this because it will also serve to make Athletic better. I want to do my best in every game and help the team.”
If Martinez continues to play at such a high level he is expected to be called up to the Spain National Team for EURO 2020 this summer. ” I don’t really think about it or want to think about it but I have to do well here because that is what will help me be there,” the defender said about possibly making the squad. “I want to have options to go to the European Championship.”
As Athletic have been preparing through the week to host Celta Vigo on Sunday, Ibai Gómez has been strongly linked with a move to Espanyol. The Catalans are persistent in their attempt to convince Athletic to sell the winger but Martinez is confident that his teammate won’t be going anywhere. “We all know he wants to stay.”
Both Iñigo Martinez and Ibai Gómez could make the lineup against Celta this weekend as Athletic look to add three important points and keep pace in the fight for Europe.