Athletic Bilbao vs Osasuna Preview

Athletic Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde insists his side must make their match against Osasuna feel like a home game.

Athletic Bilbao

The club's Nuevo San Mames stadium is still under construction and is not expected to be ready until they host Celta Vigo on the weekend of September 14, meaning the match with Osasuna will take place at Real Sociedad's stadium Anoeta in San Sebastian, approximately 95 kilometres from Bilbao.

"It'll be a bit different but we are the home team and we have to make the fact we are playing at home count and do a job," he told reporters.

Athletic won their opening game of the season at Valladolid, where they were cheered on by a sizeable away support, and Valverde hopes his side can respond in the same way at Anoeta, where they have been training ahead of the game in order to acclimatise to the ground.

"Our sensation is that we are playing at home," he said. "In Valladolid it felt like we were playing at home.

"It's not a very long journey either [to San Sebastian]. I wanted to train in Anoeta because it's a very quick pitch and I wanted us to get used to it."

Around 20,000 fans are expected to attend the game, with 300 coaches carrying supporters between the two cities.

Valverde explained that Iago Herrerin was likely to start in goal because first-choice keeper Gorka Iraizoz was injured, and that new signing Mikel Rico, who was unveiled as a new Athletic player on Thursday following a 2.5million euro move from Granada, was not expected to feature in the match either.

Striker Aritz Aduriz is free to play after missing the Valladolid game through suspension, and could replace former Osasuna striker Kike Sola in attack, as Valverde ruled out the possibility of both forwards starting.

Osasuna coach Jose Luis Mendilibar said his team should not panic after losing 2-1 to Granada at home last weekend, but admitted they were disadvantaged due to their long list of injuries, which includes Lolo, Nino, Eneko Satrustegui, Miguel Flano, Alvaro Cejudo and Miguel de las Cuevas.

"Over the course of the season we're going to experience everything and we have to be able to keep our chins up," he told a press conference.

"This [the game with Athletic] is the first opportunity we have and it has come round quickly after the defeat. I think we are doing fine, apart from the injuries, of which we have many."



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