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Five Aside

Susaeta sure Athletic can escape trouble

Athletic Bilbao winger Markel Susaeta admits to fearing the worst about the club's nightmare season this term, but says his side are capable of turning things around.

Athletic's painful 3-1 defeat to fellow Basque side Real Sociedad in Friday's last-ever derby at San Mames was their third consecutive loss and left Marcelo Bielsa's team just three points and three places above the relegation zone.

Asked by reporters on Monday whether the Athletic players - who this time last season were on the way to the finals of both the Europa League and Copa del Rey, were now in fear of a first-ever relegation from La Liga - Susaeta, 25, said the situation was not good but could be overcome.

"I do not know if the word is fear, but there is concern about the way we are playing," he said. "We have lost three games in a row, the most recent was the one that hurt the most, the derby against la Real. But the team is capable of facing up to this and coming through it."

Athletic now face another high-pressure week ahead of Saturday's trip to local rivals Osasuna, who currently sit 17th, just one point behind their neighbours.

"This will be a tough week, with a lot of training," Susaeta said. "Osasuna is a difficult place to go, very tough. It is a key game, and we must be mentally tough to take away the three points."

Susaeta echoed a claim made by Bielsa that Athletic were regularly dominating games, but then getting caught by sucker-punches from more effective opponents.

"We can play well and make chances," he said. "We do not score them and then the opponent, with much fewer chances, score a lot of goals against us. That has been happening to us all season, we need to start to change things and get out of this."


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