Athletic Bilbao vs Celta Vigo preview - Excitement over San Mames Barria

Posted Monday, September 16, 2013 by PA

Athletic Bilbao face Celta Vigo on Monday night in the first competitive match at San Mames Barria, and full-back Andoni Iraola is confident the atmosphere of the club's new home will match that of its predecessor.

Ernesto Valverde's side have had two training sessions in the new arena, which is located adjacent to the site of the old San Mames, which existed for 100 years until it was demolished in the summer.

The new stadium is not yet finished as one of the stands behind the goal still under construction, and a reduced crowd of 36,000 is expected against Celta. The capacity of the stadium will rise to 53,000 once work is complete.

Ten thousand fans watched the team train inside the stadium on Friday and Iraola said: "We had already trained there the day before, but with it being night time and with the fans, it changed.

"What impressed me most was the acoustics. You can really hear the crowd and when the fans start to sing it will be very loud. We are delighted with it."

First-choice goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz has returned from injury and is likely to step in for Iago Herrerin.

Defenders Borja Ekiza and Mikel Balenziaga are out injured, along with striker Kike Sola, but Mikel San Jose could make his first appearance of the season after returning from injury.

The news that Denmark international Michael Krohn-Delhi has been ruled out with a pulled muscle is a blow to Celta, but the good news for the Galicians is that Yoel Rodriguez has recovered from bout of gastroenteritis and is expected to retain his position in goal, while Borja Oubina returns after serving a one-match suspension.

The Celta captain admitted the team were excited about playing the first game in the new stadium, but stressed that the most important thing was to pick up points and build on their positive start to the season, which has seen them take five points from their opening three games.

"Playing in San Mames is always amazing for any sportsman, and now we're going to play in the new stadium, we want to put in a good performance and take away a souvenir from this game," Oubina told reporters.

"We don't want to return to Vigo with only the memory of playing there, without taking something positive away. The occasions you remember the best are the ones where you got a good result, and we're going to San Mames to try and win the game so we can keep on building."



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