Athletic Bilbao boss Eduardo Berizzo has spent a large majority of this week’s training sessions – focusing on stopping Gareth Bale.
The visit of Real Madrid this coming weekend as league action returns following the international break beckons for the Basque club and preparations have fully begun.
After a total of 19 days with competitive action, Athletic are now focused on stopping Julen Lopetegui’s impressive Madrid.
Berizzo is fully aware of the threat Los Blancos pose and has singled out Bale, who has been in superb form this season.
Whilst training has been in full preparation for Madrid – a special amount of time has been focused around stopping the Welsh international from having an impact.
Martinez’ return could prove key
One player who could play an important part in stopping Bale is Inigo Martinez, who is set to return to action against Madrid at the weekend.
The former Real Sociedad centre-back featured for Spain in the Nations League games against England at the weekend, despite Eduardo Berizzo’s concerns over his muscle injury problems.
Martinez did not participate in any pre-season games for the Basque side and did not travel to their summer training camp in the Netherlands last month.
Following this, the defender is yet to play a full 90 minute game for the La Liga side, but has been called up by Enrique and featured.
Athletic face Real Madrid in the next round of La Liga fixtures and Berizzo will now use Martinez in that game, however, he will not have the defender available in training until Wednesday September 12th, following the international period.
Athletic have started the season in good form, winning against Leganes and drawing with Huesca. They failed to play this weekend just gone due to the closure of Rayo Vallecano’s stadium and will now face Madrid on the 15th of this month.