Julen Lopetegui appeared before the media ahead of Monday's clash against Athletic Club. The coach said 'the only thing we are doing is focusing on the next objective, which is Athletic. We are excited for an incredibly tough match against a team who have beaten Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atlético. They have a good coach and talented squad with young players and other more experienced ones. We are excited and focused, full of motivation.'
LOPETEGUI: 'IN THESE MOMENTS, YOUR MIND MUST OVERCOME YOUR BODY'
The coach was asked about Jules Koundé to which he responded the centre-back had made a step forward but the team would have to wait until tomorrow: 'We are all excited for this run in to the end of the season. We aren't sure about Jules, he made a step forward today and we'll see tomorrow how he's feeling, as well as some other players.' Julen also discussed the possible return of fans to stadiums: 'I'm no expert in the subject but when you see that crowds are being allowed in other areas of life, with measures, why not in football as well. I think the criteria should be the same for everything and I don't understand this differentiation between some things and others.'
Speaking about the teams at the top of La Liga, he was asked about whether he saw any of them winning all five games: 'I don't have a crystal ball, but every game is difficult as all the teams are fighting for something. Every match is a battle and there are no exceptions. Difficulty is at a maximum as every team is fighting for their objectives.'
'Athletic have internationals in their squad and also some promising young players'
Discussing Marcelino's team further, Lopetegui said 'we will go into the game as we do any other. Athletic are a top team with talented, physical players. They have their game plan and a charismatic coach. They have internationals and promising young players. We need to prepare well for a match against such a team.' Lopetegui was also asked about the team's physical state: 'Alongside Granada, we're the team with most matches played. But the team is doing well physically and all teams are in the same boat now. In these moments, your mentality and motivation must rise above your body.'
To finish, Julen discussed the fans supporting the team from afar: 'I see the excitement in our fans' eyes and they're happy with the team. We want to keep them feeling like this by playing a great match tomorrow. We are really excited for it.'