Etxeberria “Every Weekend Is A Fight”
Overcoming adversity has been the key to success for Bilbao Athletic this season. Joseba Etxeberria’s side have had to deal with a plethora of injuries throughout the campaign and in Saturday’s trip to Tajonar there was an even bigger challenge. Along with a number of players being unavailable for the match against Osasuna B, starlets Oihan Sancet and Unai Vencedor had both been called up to the first team.
“It’s true that we have many casualties because of injuries and suspensions, but we don’t consider Sancet or Vencedor as casualties because they are playing with the first team,” Etxeberria said after the 1-1 draw. “It’s a sign that we are working well, that we are helping the team, but we are going to continue pushing the players because the demand of the Primera is very high. Hopefully they will both get to participate tomorrow.”
Sancet made his first team debut on the opening day of the season, but Vencedor has still been waiting for his opportunity. Both midfielders have been incredible for Bilbao Athletic and are on the cusp of permanent promotions.
“Oihan has already played several games with the first team, but playing tomorrow would be Vencedor’s debut. Imagine how special it would be. They both deserve the call because they have had a great year playing at a great level and they keep getting better. This is a reward for them and, at the same time, for the group. What we want is for the players to be prepared for the next step, as complete as possible because the Primera demands the most of you. Debuting is difficult but staying at that level is much harder. Unai has that mentality and I hope he can participate tomorrow.”
With Vencedor out of the team Etxeberria had an important role to fill in the lineup. His first and second choices were also unavailable which led to center-back Aitor Paredes starting in midfield for the first time in his young career.
“With Vencedor up we had Prados injured the other day and Bernaola was injured as well so we decided to start Paredes, who is a defender, in this specific midfield role because he has quality and reads the game well. It was a demanding scenario for him and he did well. Salado also played well when Víctor left injured. We have players that want to help and participate.”
Unfortunately, yet another injury took place in the first half when Víctor San Bartolomé was forced to leave the field. Etxeberria confirmed that the 20-year-old will miss extended time.
“Víctor’s injury is a pity because he was playing well, but we’re getting used to the adversities. He will be unavailable for a while. We are more concerned with his health and that he recovers as well as possible from the back muscle injury. He hasn’t had continuity but when he’s participated his performances have been very good. Now he will miss some games because of the injury.”
Looking at the draw against Osasuna B, Etxeberria admitted that it was an evenly-fought match. Leaving Tajonar with at least one point is always a good result and the Mister explained that the team must continue playing well in what has been a very competitive group this season.
“It was a very disputed match. Both teams competed well and created clear chances, but Osasuna were organized in defense. For this reason, the draw is a fair result. We added a point against a direct rival and we’re happy. A draw in this match is good and helps us draw positive conclusions. Every weekend is a fight. There isn’t much difference between those below and those above. If you don’t play well you won’t win.”
Bilbao Athletic currently sit second in the table and are one of the favorites to finish in the top four and qualify for the promotional playoffs. The Kumeak will be back in action next Saturday when Arenas Club visits Lezama.