After a thrilling 3-2 comeback over Panathinaikos in Greece, Athletic Club must now turn their attention to La Liga which kicks off this Sunday. The Lions will be hosting newly promoted Getafe and will be looking to get off to a fast start in their domestic campaign. With four games scheduled over eleven days, Kuko Ziganda will have to rotate his team in order to keep everyone fresh and playing at a high level. It isn’t known what moves he is expected to make for Sunday’s clash, but it now looks like he will be forced to sit at least three starters.
Marca reporter Juanma Velasco revealed on Twitter that Iker Muniain, Aymeric Laporte, and Mikel Vesga are all doubtful for Sunday’s game due to minor knocks that they picked up during the match against Panathinaikos. Vesga has had discomfort in his left calf, Laporte in his left thigh, and Muniain in his right ankle. In fact, Muniain was not even able to put any weight on his foot on Friday. The trio have not been officially ruled out for Sunday’s game, but they are doubtful.
Replacing these three players will be a challenge for Ziganda. First, Laporte’s absence will definitely be felt, especially with Yeray still out of action. Truthfully, starting Mikel San Jose in defense would likely be the most solid option, but the midfielder should also start in place of Vesga. Ander Iturraspe, who is still out with a muscle strain, would have given Ziganda much more flexibility with deciding where to play San Jose. As far as finding a replacement for Muniain, there are three players who could be called upon – Sabin Merino, Inigo Cordoba, and Ager Aketxe.
With this being the first game of the La Liga season, Merino is probably the safe choice to fill in for Muniain. However, Aketxe and Cordoba could also see time against Getafe and will be ready to take advantage of any opportunity that they are handed. Additionally, Kepa Arrizabalaga will definitely start in goal, which was confirmed by Ziganda in a recent press conference. Hopefully not all three players will be ruled out, but that is the expectation. Ziganda will be giving his pre-game press conference later Saturday afternoon and will almost certainly be asked about the possible absences.