Previewing Granada vs Athletic Club: LaLiga Matchday 38
Athletic’s season ended on Thursday night when the Lions were defeated by Leganés at San Mamés. The loss meant that Athletic wouldn’t be able to qualify for Europe, but there’s still one game left to play. On Sunday, Athletic will travel to Granada to finish the campaign in a game where only pride and money will be at stake.
On the other hand, Granada can still qualify for Europe and the Nazaríes have a score to settle with Athletic. After losing three straight games against the Basques, Granada won 2-1 at home back in March but were still eliminated from the Copa del Rey on aggregate. Getting revenge against Athletic could also result in a top seven finish for Granada and playing at Nuevo Los Cármenes will be an added advantage.
Gaizka Gartiano confirmed during Saturday’s press conference that several changes will be made to the lineup, but that Athletic won’t be taking the game off. The club can earn a lot more money by finishing higher up the table, even if the top seven isn’t a possibility. The difference between an 8th place finish and 11th is a total of €4 million in bonuses. Unfortunately, there will be no debuts for young players with Bilbao Athletic and Basconia both in action this weekend in the promotional playoffs.
Players such as Yuri Berchiche, Yeray, and Ander Capa have been dealing with ongoing injuries and may only see limited minutes, or possibly none at all. Goalkeeper Unai Simón will also be unavailable after being shown a red card in the loss to Leganés, which means that Iago Herrerín will take his place in the lineup.
Garitano won’t be starting the strongest possible lineup, yet those who normally don’t see the field will be eager to make the most of their opportunity. Ultimately, the race for Europe is over, but a higher revenue bonus is on the line and winning on Sunday would be an important result for the club.
Projected Athletic Club XI: Iago Herrerín, Óscar De Marcos, Unai Núñez, Iñigo Martínez, Mikel Balenziaga, Mikel Vesga, Unai López, Iñigo Córdoba, Iker Muniain, Gaizka Larrazabal, Asier Villalibre