Joseba Etxeberria “If We’re At Our Best Level We Can Beat Any Team”
The stage is set for Bilbao Athletic. Yesterday the draw for the promotional playoffs was held and the Kumeak were matched up against Badajoz who will be a serious test in the opening round. The match will take place on 18 July and Joseba Etxeberria is already preparing the team for the clash.
“They are a strong opponent, one that we had analyzed very closely,” Etxeberria told Radio Popular when asked about the draw. “They’re a highly skilled team, very organized, and usually play a 4-4-2.”
From there the Mister detailed Badajoz’s exceptional attack. Former Bilbao Athletic striker Gorka Santamaría leads the team with 10 goals, but he’s not the only dangerous player in the squad.
“To highlight the attacking pair, with Aquino and Santamaría, they’re players who have a lot of punch. In addition, they combine play very well and are coordinated. If we’re at our best level we can beat any team and we have to play like it. We’re going to have a lot of confidence and a lot of hope that we can advance.”
The match will be held at Nuevo Mirador de Algeciras and with it taking place in July questions have been raised over the heat and possible field conditions. “The information we have on the field is very good,” said Etxeberria. “Perhaps there is some unknown because there are days when the wind can hit a little, but it seems that all the fields where the qualifying rounds are going to take place are very, very good.”
Ultimately, Bilbao Athletic’s goal is to win three straight games and earn promotion to the second division. Doing so won’t be easy, but the team will treat every game like a final.
“We’re approaching it as if it were a final phase of a European Cup or of a World Cup. In the regular league we qualified for the quarterfinals and are three games away from promotion. The players won’t be happy with a draw. We will go for everything.”
A number of key Bilbao Athletic players have been training with the first team in recent weeks, but will likely be available to Etxeberria for the playoffs. Manager Gaizka Garitano was asked about the possibility during a press conference on Friday and confirmed he would do everything possible to held Etxeberria.
“We have a very fluid communication with Joseba. Right now some players are with the first team like Sancet, Vencedor and Vivian who have been called up. My idea is to provide Bilbao Athletic with everything possible, everything that Joseba needs when the times comes. I will be at the disposal of Bilbao Athletic who will fight for promotion. They aren’t playing yet, but when the time comes these players will be available for whatever they need. There are still many weeks left.”
Bilbao Athletic were one of the most exciting teams in the Segunda B all season and have the quality to earn promotion. Regardless of the outcome, Joseba Etxeberria’s first year as manager can only be considered a roaring success.