Joseba Etxeberria “We Have The Feeling That Maybe We Deserved Something More”

Joseba Etxeberria Aitor Larrazabal

Joseba Etxeberria with Salmanca manager and Athletic legend Aitor Larrazabal (AC)

Bilbao Athletic met a formidable opponent on Saturday as the team traveled to Estadio Helmántico. Following last weekend’s 1-0 victory over Cultural Leonesa the Kumeak were eager to pick up another important three points, but the game would be far from easy. Salamanca managed to open the scoring early in the first half before Unai Vencedor leveled the score. The match would eventually end in a 1-1 draw though Bilbao Athletic enjoyed far more possession and chances.

“I wasn’t surprised by the difficulty,” manager Joseba Etxeberria told reporters after the game. “We knew that this was an opponent at a high level. We tried to play our game and we did, but they matched our effort and brought a sense of danger with their direct style. This is a good point for us, though we also have the feeling that maybe we deserved something more.”

Etxeberria continued to explain that Bilbao Athletic’s game plan was to pull Salamanca out of position and attack the open space. “Salamanca is a very organized team that usually wins duels and challenges,” said the manager. “We tried to wear them down by moving the ball from one side to the other and we had chances to score more goals.”

The lone goal was scored by Unai Vencedor who has arguably been the team’s most important player this season. As always, Etxeberria says that developing players for the first team is the top priority and he believes that Vencedor is close. “Everyone is improving, which is the goal. This is that last step, the most difficult one, and Vencedor has been one of the most outstanding players.”

Injuries have been a major issue for the team throughout the season and Etxeberria hasn’t had the entire squad available at any point. Sickness has also been a problem for the club in recent weeks and was the reason for Gorka Guruzeta not being named to the starting lineup.

Unai Vencedor

“Vencedor has been one of the most outstanding players.” (AC)

“Guruzeta has been ill so he wasn’t in the lineup out of precaution. With Morcillo, I chose to put Imanol on the wing in order to have more ball movement. We wanted to play with more control and have Morcillo to add verticality at the end. These games are 14 against 14 and we need everybody.”

In closing, Etxeberria shared that Ander Iru kept his place in the lineup due to the fact that Jokin Ezkieta is currently training with the team. The top priority will always be supplying players for the senior squad.

“Ezkieta didn’t travel with us out of precaution. Iago Herrerín cannot play against Barcelona and for that match Ezkieta will be needed behind Unai Simón. It’s a very wise decision from the first team coaching stage. We are here to help them and other players can benefit from the opportunities.”

Bilbao Athletic currently sit second in the table and trail leaders Logroñés by six points. The Kumeak will have a wonderful opportunity to secure an important three points and make up more ground next weekend when last placed Tudelano visit Lezama.

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