Joseba Etxeberria “Our Way Of Playing And Thinking Won’t Change”
It’s been nearly two months since Bilbao Athletic returned to training. The Kumeak have been preparing for the upcoming promotional playoffs and, after beating Logroñés 1-0 in a friendly last week, the team is excited to take the field on Saturday against Badajoz. Joseba Etxeberria’s side will need to win three straight games to earn promotion to the Segunda.
“I see the team well prepared,” Etxeberria said during a press conference on Tuesday. “Being young the players can recover their shape sooner. We’re more concerned with the psychological aspect, but the response has been very good from day one. The confinement has reaffirmed us more every day.”
Badajoz made a deep run in the Copa del Rey, knocking out Eibar before losing to Granada. They will be a challenging opponent for Bilbao Athletic and Etxeberria is approaching the game expecting nothing less than a tight battle.
“Badajoz are a good team, very organized, with balance and the ability to circulate the ball. We know that we’re going to have to play a good game to beat them. It will be a very even match, very close. Our way of playing and thinking won’t change.”
The break has helped Bilbao Athletic recover key players who were dealing with injuries. Iñigo Baqué is the only one ruled out for Saturday’s fixture, but the Kumeak will finally have all of the strikers available.
“Aside from Baqué, who is recovering from his ligament injury and had some discomfort this past week, everyone is well. We’re very happy to have different alternatives in the attacking positions. Ewan Urain and Andoni Tascón have recovered. Guruzeta will be with us too and Nico Serrano who can give us something different.”
On the other hand, both Oihan Sancet and Dani Vivian will be unavailable if the first team is still in the race for Europe this weekend. Etxeberria has no problems losing both because fighting for a top seven finish is the most important goal for the club as a whole right now.
“The coordination between the teams has been very good. The first team is the priority. If Gaizka is going to count on them them we will count on Basconia players. The first team is having a very good season and trying to get that seventh place spot that would put them in Europe. We know the different options and we’re waiting to know more.”
As always, Etxeberria was sure to point out that preparing players to take the step up to the first team is the ultimate goal. However, earning promotion would be a massive benefit for several different reasons.
“The priority is to promote the boys to the first team. This is another parallel group objective that is difficult, but we’re prepared. Ideally, we would move up and Basconia too, because the distance would be shorter for the young players to go to the first team if we’re in the Segunda and Segunda B. In addition, there is an economic aspect. There would be significant revenue increases.”
While Bilbao Athletic are playing Badajoz in the opening round of the promotional playoffs, Basconia will also be in action against Portugalete. This will be the first time in 17 years that both teams are competing for promotion at the same time, but Basconia will not be allowed to move up unless Bilbao Athletic do as well. Whatever the outcome, it’s been a tremendously successful season for the team teams under new managers.