Girona prepares to welcome Bilbao to the Montilivi this Sunday. Both sides are sitting mid-table and experienced disappointing draws last week. Girona was away at Malaga, while a lackluster Bilbao faced Eibar at home. That was Bilbao’s third draw in as many weeks.
The transfer deadline is now closed and both clubs had a busy final week. For the Lions, defender Aymeric Laporte moved to Manchester City for an undisclosed fee. To replace him, Athletic signed Real Sociedad defender Inigo Martinez who is now the most expensive signing in the club’s history.
Athletic Bilbao coach José Ángel Ziganda was unhappy to lose the Frenchman. He lamented, “it was a disgrace to lose Laporte, but lucky to bring Iñigo.”
Meanwhile, Girona signed centre-forward Anthony ‘Choco’ Lozano from Barcelona B for 1.5 million euros.
New signings aside, Athletic are still without Iker Muniain, Mikel Balenziaga, Kepa Arrizabalaga and Óscar de Marcos due to injury. Girona is only missing Pedro Alcalá, but both Juanpe and Aday are at risk of suspension with five yellow cards a piece.
Girona coach Pablo Machín continues to claim that permanence is the club’s only objective of the season. However, they are sitting in 10th place – above Athletic Bilbao – and more than 10 points from the relegation zone. Permanence is surely already achieved.
Meanwhile, Athletic Club is on a mission to get back in the top half of the table. Ziganda commented,
“We are the main actors in the scene and we have to change what happened the other day as quickly as possible. We know that it was a step backward and we want to make a great match, recover feelings and make a good impression that we know we can.”
Athletic’s attempts to get back to winning ways will certainly be put to the test against a stubborn Girona. The match kicks off on Sunday at 6.30pm local time / 5.30pm BST.