Preview: Osasuna-Athletic

Off-field issues are threatening to boil over for Osasuna and Athletic Bilbao ahead of Saturday’s meeting between the two sides in La Liga. 

Osasuna President Luis Sabalza confirmed at an extraordinary general meeting last week that he would not serve his mandate until the end of 2018 and call for early elections.

However, Coach Petar Vasiljevic stressed his side were only focusing on survival, despite the Pamplonans being 15 points adrift at the bottom of La Liga.

“We’ve tried to isolate these things, the dressing room has to fight on the pitch and leave everything else for the decision-makers,” he said at a Press conference.

“There haven’t been any talks and the dressing room’s focus is on sporting issues.”

An injury crisis at El Sadar has deprived the Serbian of as many as eight players, including goalscoring midfielder Roberto Torres, Bosnian starlet Kenan Kodro and the Flano twins.

Athletic Bilbao have only Yeray Alvarez missing, the defender breaking his nose against Italy in midweek Under-21 action, as a win would catapult the Basques back into Europa League contention.

The future of boss Ernesto Valverde remains the subject of intense speculation, although the reported Barcelona target insisted he felt “no pressure”.

“I understand that the Press always looks for news for the next day and so on, but pressure? No, none,” he assured.

“The pressure I have is to win at Osasuna tomorrow, but that’s usual.”

Osasuna (probable): Sirigu; Bunuel, David Garcia, Oier, Vujadinovic, Clerc; Causic, Merida, De las Cuevas; Riera, Sergio Leon

Injuries/suspensions: Digard, Jaime, Javi Flano, Kodro, Miguel Flano, Loe, Roberto Torres, Tano (all injured)

Athletic Bilbao (probable): Kepa; De Marcos, Boveda, Laporte, Balenziaga; San Jose, Benat; Lekue, Raul Garcia, Williams; Aduriz

Injuries/suspensions: Yeray (I)

Referee: Munuera Montero

Form guide: Osasuna (L D L L L) Athletic (L W W L W)

Previous meeting: Athletic 1-1 Osasuna

Kick-off time: 15:15 BST/16:15 CET