Athletic Club played their first Basque Derby of the season on Sunday when they travel to Ipurua to take on Eibar. The Lions were able to take all three points thanks to a narrow 1-0 lead which just so happened to be their first win of the La Liga season. Following the game, manager Kuko Ziganda spoke with the media and said that he believes it was a fair result. He also made it clear that his team cannot relax even though the international break begins on Monday.
“For me it was a fair outcome. The goal dictated the game. Even in the first half, when they were in control, we settled and health with things well. We calmed down and scored a goal and from there Eibar were not able to be comfortable. Earning four points is good, but we cannot relax because every week is important. Now we have a quiet week to continue improving and correcting things. The mood has been intense and we were able to finish the month strong. Given the opponent today, we kept them from enjoying the game. Defensively this was our best game of the season. I’m happy, but we have to work hard this week and not rest. It’s ok to be happy with the numbers, but we cannot relax.”
When asked about the fact that he made several rotations to the lineup on Sunday, Ziganda said that you have to take the chance sometimes because players need to rest. He also praised Iñigo Córdoba, Iñaki Williams, and Kepa Arrizabalaga for their standout performances.
“You have to take the chance and know the consequences. Four matches in a few days is difficult and we demonstrated our strength. Córdoba stayed in the lineup today because he earned it. We need everyone fresh, whether it is in the league or in Europe. If I see someone that needs to rest they won’t play. There were some today that have been waiting to play and they showed themselves well. Iñaki and Kepa were strong today and they helped us win this game. Kepa was great in our area and Iñaki helped Aduriz score the goal. Their performances aren’t a surprise. Kepi’s renewal? I have not spoken to him about it.”
In closing, Ziganda praised defender Unai Nuñez and said that the 20-year-old is growing a lot as he settles into the first team. The Lezama product is strong and gives the Lions a lot of help dealing with crosses and aerial threats. Ziganda also admitted that, as of right now, Kike Sola will remain in the team.
“He [Nuñez] is growing by leaps and bounds. He had to work hard to make the ream and today he showed why he is here, the other day he did the same thing. You have to be calm and patient with him because he is still learning. Unai is powerful and has great concentration. He’s doing well when he has the ball and he’s been helpful with crosses. Balenziaga did not play because he needed a rest, nothing more. Kike Sola? As of today he remains in the team.”
The international break will begin on Monday so Athletic will have time to rest up and try to get back to full health. They will be back in action on 10 September when they will host newly promoted Girona at the San Mamés. Former Athletic players Gorka Iraizoz and Jonas Ramalho will likely play in that game so it will be a very special reunion. In the meantime, Kuko Ziganda says that the team will not be relaxing, but will instead be working on getting better for the next stretch of the season.