Yuri Berchiche To Miss Espanyol Match With Thigh Discomfort
Yuri Berchiche has been one of the most important players for Athletic this season, making 20 appearances and accumulating over 1,700 minutes. The 29-year-old has made a significant impact in every match he’s played and his absence has certainly been felt when unavailable. Impressively, Berchiche has been in such great form despite dealing with ongoing pain from a dislocated shoulder earlier in the campaign.
With Athletic traveling to face a desperate Espanyol side on Saturday the Lions will need to be at their very best to take all three points back home to Bilbao. Unfortunately, Berchiche will likely not be in the team. The defender left Thursday’s training session early after feeling discomfort in his left thigh and was seen walking to the locker room shaking his head in frustration, suggesting that he won’t be able to recover in time to make the trip to Catalonia.
Dani Vivian was also forced to retire early after suffering a blow to his ankle in a clash with Iñigo Córdoba. Iker Muniain, who has played heavy minutes since returning from a hamstring injury, was kept out of training in order to recover.
If Berchiche is ruled out for the match Mikel Balenziaga would be expected to take his place in the lineup. However, Gaizka Garitano has fielded three center-backs in the last two league games away from home and could do so again at RCDE Stadium which would open up other possibilities. Being without Berchiche will be a signifcant challenge for Athletic to overcome but the Mister has a number of options to choose from, including Iñigo Lekue who has played very well when given the opportunity this season.
Yuri Berchiche won’t be the only player to miss Saturday’s match. Unai López will also be unavailable due to suspension while Unai Simón is still recovering from mumps. The situation with Aritz Aduriz remains uncertain with the striker having trained normally over the past few weeks, but still being kept out of matches in order to fully regain fitness.