Gaizka Garitano has said that Friday night’s game with Espanyol could see his side move away from the bottom pack of La Liga clubs.
Athletic and Espanyol will with both side’s focused on moving up the La Liga table after different spells of form this term.
Both sides have suffered inconsistent form this term with the visitors having enjoyed a superb start to the season, whilst Athletic struggled – but recent results have improved, allowing both sides to look at a potential European place.
A win for either at San Mames on Friday evening could see them move to 8th place and put pressure on the likes of Real Betis, Valencia and Sevilla.
Espanyol are in slightly better form, having not lost in their last five games, which include two wins, whilst Athletic have lost two in their last five, but have also won two.
Given the tightness of La Liga this season, both side’s will treat this game as a must-win, hoping they can steer away from the relegation battlers with Villarreal sitting on 23 points.
And, Garitano touched on that during his pre-match press conference: “My goal has not changed, it is to win the next game, ” he told reporters. “We want to have more teams below us. Now we have to beat Espanyol and put ourselves in a number of points that would be good.”
Garitano will be without Inigo Lekue, who is slowly getting back to fitness after a long-term injury problem, but Athletic shouldn’t make any sweeping changes on Friday night.
Markel Susaeta and Ibai Gomez will battle it out for a start on the right wing for the hosts. Oscar de Marcos will continue at right-back in Ander Capa’s absence.