Previewing Athletic Club vs Osasuna: LaLiga Matchday 24
Athletic’s start to the La Liga campaign was nothing short of sensational, but the success didn’t last. Having now gone eight straight league games without a victory, the Lions have fallen out of the European zone of the table and are desperate to start adding important points once again. On Sunday, Athletic will have a great opportunity to finally record a win as they welcome Osasuna to San Mamés for a Basque Derby.
When the two sides met earlier this season Athletic put an end to Osasuna’s 31-game unbeaten streak at home with a 2-1 victory at El Sadar. The Navarrese side will be out for revenge this weekend, though they haven’t fared well at the Cathedral throughout recent history. Athletic have won six and drawn twice in the last eight matches against Osasuna at San Mamés, conceding just two goals, and haven’t lost at home since in nearly 13 years.
Osasuna enjoyed an impressive start to the season for a team that had just earned promotion, though recent results have left much to be desired. Los Rojillos have managed just one win in their last eight league games and currently sit 12th in the La Liga table. Jagoba Arrasate’s side has played good football and likely won’t be part of the relegation battle in the months to come.
Unfortunately, the loss of Chimy Ávila has been a massive blow for Osasuna. As one of the best forwards in the league, Ávila leads Osasuna with 9 goals this season but recently suffered a torn ACL. Arrasate has had to turn to other alternatives such as Rubén García who has found the back of the net 6 times, though he is also expected to miss the Derby through injury along with Jon Moncayola and José Arnáiz.
Athletic currently trail the top six by seven points and must start winning games to climb the table. Playing at home will give the Zurigorri a massive advantage over Osasuna, but a number of players will be unavailable. Iker Muniain and Dani García are both suspended for the fixture while Unai López will miss out due to injury. With so many absences in midfield, Gaizka Garitano has called up Oihan Sancet and 19-year-old Unai Vencedor who could make his first team debut at San Mamés.
Based on recent performances it’s likely that Garitano will field three center-backs once again. The lineup has led to more chances in attack without taking away from the team’s exceptional defending. Athletic will have the make the most of their opportunities in front of goal to come away with a victory because poor finishing has cost the Lions points in recent weeks.
Without a midweek game on the horizon Athletic can afford to go for everything against Osasuna and a win is absolutely vital. Although key players will be missing, the Zurigorri should have enough quality and support at home to take the three points and put an end to their winless streak. When it comes to a Basque Derby anything can happen and Garitano’s side will be prepared for a battle at the Cathedral.
Projected Athletic Club XI: Unai Simón, Ander Capa, Yeray, Unai Núñez, Iñigo Martinez, Yuri Berchiche, Unai Vencedor, Mikel Vesga, Raúl García, Iñaki Williams, Asier Villalibre