The Eibar, in the hands of Kike García

The injuries of Charles and Enrich fill him with responsibility at the peak moment

The Eibar is entrusted to the goals of Kike Garcia to continue dreaming in a European key. With Sergi Enrich and Charles Dias in the infirmary, the continental ticket will depend to a large extent on the scoring inspiration of the Manchego striker, the only attacker available to José Luis Mendilibar in the momentous encounter that will be played by the armourer on Saturday at Benito Villamarín.

Since his appearance in Ipurua, he has been a player who has had the confidence of the coach, but he has never been seen in an equal. The six weeks that will be Charles in the dry dock and the complications that have occurred in the recovery of Enrich have left him alone before the danger. The manchego is forced to take a step forward.

The challenge that lies ahead is huge and full of responsibility. He is the top scorer of Eibar in the second round, but all the goals he has done this season have been with another forward at his side. Now he will have to learn to survive alone. The European train does not wait and Kike Garcia will have to respond to the demand from the first day, because Eibar can not afford any more trips.

Second opportunity

The former Real Murcia already showed last season that the goal does not get smaller when the pressure increases. He was one of those who kept the European flame alive until the final weeks of the championship. The defeat against Athletic ended the European dream. Fate has given him a second chance and he does not want to waste it.

The trap of possession

Having the ball for longer than the rival is no guarantee of success for Eibar. Rather the complete opposite. The azulgrana set suffers to take the games forward when it clearly exceeds in possession to the opposite that is opposite. The statistics do not deceive and so indicate it. The men of José Luis Mendilibar have not been able to add the three points in the five meetings this season in which they have had more than 60% control of the ball.

The defeat of the Ciutat de València was a new staging of how much it costs Eibar to win when the opponent gives the ball. The Armada squad left empty of Valencian lands in spite of being the possessor of the ball during 66% of the match. Something very similar to what happened four months ago in the duel of the first round in Ipurua, where the azulgrana team reached 70% of possession and even then was only able to draw.

The encounters against Atlético, Málaga and Deportivo are other obvious signs that Eibar does not enjoy when it has to take the initiative. Having the ball for 66% of the time did not prevent the colchonero team from taking the victory. The bottom scorer took a point from Ipurua despite the fact that the armored team signed the highest possession percentage since it was in Primera (71%) and in Riazor it went up to 70% to tie against an opponent that was with one less player during one hour of play.

It is clear that Eibar is not a team designed to attack in positional and have control of the ball during long phases. The game in static chokes. The direct football is one of the hallmarks of Mendilibar’s libretto, but when the rivals are locked back there is no other way to move the ball with patience and in those contexts you can see the seams of Eibar, as it becomes a team foreseeable, it is not capable of speeding the circulations and abuses the horizontal passes.

Mendilibar’s discourse on possession is practical. He does not want to have the ball in inconsequential areas. He wants it to get to the rival area. And the fewer touches you need to do it, the better. It is still symptomatic that in the two goals this season against Betis and Sevilla, 5-0 and 5-1 respectively, Eibar has not passed 45% of possession. There is little chance in that. Nor is there in the five meetings in which he has not won despite being the owner of the ball.