Previewing Athletic Club vs Leganés: LaLiga Matchday 37
Two games stand between Athletic and European football. The Lions have a great opportunity to finish in the top seven of the La Liga table this season, but it will likely take winning both of their final fixtures. It’s been a tight race for Europe all year and the last sprint will start Thursday night when Athletic welcome Leganés to San Mamés.
Athletic and Leganés have met just seven times throughout history with the Basques losing just once. In fact, Athletic have managed two wins and one draw against Leganés at San Mamés which bodes well for a good result this time around. Gaizka Garitano’s side will be favored at home, although Leganés will be desperate for a positive result themselves.
With six points left to play for Leganés sit 18th in the table and just four points away from salvation. A win at San Mamés could lift Los Pepineros to within one point of climbing out of the relegation zone. However, manager Javier Aguirre is in a difficult position with Unai Bustinza, Guido Carrillo, Óscar Rodriguez, Kenneth Omeruo, Kevin Rodrigues, Recio, Jonathan Silva, and Chidozie Awaziem all ruled out for the trip to Bilbao.
Athletic were also expected to be without a number of key players as well. Ander Capa, Yuri Berchiche, and Beñat all missed the previous game with muscle injuries but have been included in the squad list. Surprisingly, Yeray has also recovered in time to make the team despite recently being ruled out for the rest of the season with a calf injury.
It’s unclear if Yeray, or indeed Capa or Berchiche, will actually play. Garitano has called up a total of 24 players which means that one will have to be dropped for the match. The Mister will likely wait as long as possible to choose the lineup to ensure that he can field the strongest possible lineup without taking any unnecessary risks.
Taking all three points against a weakened Leganés side won’t be easy. Los Pepineros have been excellent defensively over the past few games and Athletic will need to make the most of their chances in the final third while also controlling the wide areas. Anything short of a win would be an unacceptable result for Athletic who need a victory to go into the last day of the season with Europe on the line.
Projected Athletic Club XI: Unai Simón, Ander Capa, Unai Núñez, Yeray, Mikel Balenziaga, Dani García, Unai López, Iñaki Williams, Iker Muniain, Iñigo Córdoba, Raúl García