Previewing Eibar vs Athletic Club: LaLiga Matchday 3

Asier Villalibre scored in Athletic’s last visit to Eibar (AC)

Athletic’s start to the new season has been strange. After losing 2-0 to Granada in the opening game, the Lions have now had two weeks to prepare for the next fixture. On Sunday Athletic travel to Ipurua for the first Basque Derby of the campaign with hopes of bringing all three points back to Bilbao. Even without fans in attendance Ipurua will be a formidable field.

Since earning promotion to the Primera in 2014, Eibar have managed just one win against Athletic. That lone victory came at Ipurua in August of 2018. However, Eibar always seem to make things difficult for the Zurigorri, especially at home. Athletic’s last two trips to Ipurua both ended in draws, though either could have been a defeat.

Gaizka Garitano will be without three players for the trip to Eibar. Yeray and Peru Nolaskoain miss out due to muscle injuries, while Ibai Gómez is still recovering from a fractured clavicle. Unai Núñez will start in place of Yeray, but there could be a few other changes as well. Yuri Berchiche is finally cleared to play and should come back into the lineup. Similarly, Unai López has been training alongside Dani García and will likely replace Mikel Vesga in midfield. Iñaki Williams will also return to the eleven after coming off the bench against Granada.

Eibar’s press has a reputation for being unbearable at times. The Armagiñak often make opponents very uncomfortable at Ipurua, meaning Athletic must control the midfield and pace of play to secure a victory. Unai López and Iker Muniain will be relied upon to break the press, but the defense must also be sure on the ball. Eibar thrive on forcing turnovers and mistakes could cost Athletic.

On the other end of the pitch, Eibar struggle to keep possession and their defense will concede chances. Scoring goals remains the biggest issue for Athletic, but to leave Ipurua with three points the Lions have to finish chances. Ultimately, every Basque Derby is unpredictable. Anything can happen on Sunday, but Athletic have the quality to win on the road and start climbing the table.

Projected Athletic Club XI: Unai Simón, Ander Capa, Unai Núñez, Iñigo Martínez, Yuri Berchiche, Dani García, Unai López, Iñaki Williams, Iker Muniain, Jon Morcillo, and Raúl García

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