Eibar are now gearing up for their 7th season in the top flight, which in itself is a remarkable feat for the tiny Basque club. They did flirt with relegation for much of last season though and there are fears that this could be the year they finally go down. Read on for our Eibar season preview.
Last Season – 14th
The 2019/20 campaign was arguably Eibar’s most challenging in their five years under the guidance of José Luis Mendilibar. The departures of players like Joan Jordan hit them hard and new signings took time to settle. However just when everybody was getting ready to write the Basque minnows off again, Eibar did what they normally do and found a few home wins and started to climb the table.
From matchday 8 onwards, they hovered just above the relegation zone, never climbing higher than 13th but crucially never slipping into the bottom three. Four victories following the restart ensured they avoided any last day drama with back-to-back wins over Espanyol and Real Valladolid ensuring there was no way they could be overhauled by a resurgent Leganes.
Overall though, there were warning signs for Eibar moving forward into the 2020/21 season. They were reliant on Fabian Orellana in the final third with the Chilean topping both their goal and assist rankings. His total of 15 goal involvements was double what any other Eibar player managed and Orellana will be turning out for Real Valladolid this season.
Eibar Summer Transfers
Recio | from Leganes | LOAN
Damian Kadzior | from Dinamo Zagreb | €2m
Fabián Orellana | to Real Valladolid | FREE
Gonzalo Escalante | to Lazio | FREE
Charles | to Pontevedra | FREE
(Transfers up to 6th September 2020.)
Coach – José Luis Mendilibar
After five successful years at Ipurua, José Luis Mendilibar has worked wonders and written his name into Eibar history forever. From an outside perspective at least, you worry he may end up regretting staying a year or two too long though with Eibar constantly defying the odds just by remaining at this level.
One of a number of talented Basque coaches working in Europe’s big leagues, Mendilibar’s sides always play with intensity and Eibar have become known for their high pressing game. At times it does get them in trouble against the teams good enough to get around it, but it has also been a key ingredient in their ability to get results, particularly in front of their own fans at tiny Ipurua.
Possible Eibar Line Up 2020/21
The system and approach is likely to be very much the same again from Eibar but significant departures do limit Mendilibar’s options this term and it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that they are going to be a weaker side as a result.
Marko Dmitrović will be the undisputed number one again but there will be competition for places right across the back four. Veteran defender Ivan Ramis has now retired after considerable injury problems last term meaning Pedro Bigas and Paulo Oliveira look set to be the first choice central defensive pairing for 2020/21. The likes of Cote, Rober and Álvaro Tejero will be competing for starts at full-back.
It’s midfield though where Eibar’s options have really been depleted. Fabian Orellana, Gonzalo Escalante, Sebastian Cristoforo and Pablo de Blasis have all departed this summer. Damian Kadzior is their main recruit to date but he may have to play second fiddle to Takashi Inui on the left flank initially at least. We may see some late business to bolster the other midfield positions before the window ends.
Up top, experienced striker Charles has also moved on leaving Sergi Enrich and Kike Garcia as the most likely strike pairing. Enrich only managed 1 goal in 30 league appearances last term while Kike wasn’t much more prolific with just 5 goals.
Key Man – Pedro Bigas
Eibar may have a lot of defending to do this season, so they really do need one of their centre-backs to step up and have a big season. The most likely candidate is Pedro Bigas who had a solid 2019/20 campaign, his first after signing a permanent deal to move to Ipurua where he had previously been on loan. Bigas is an experienced campaigner at the bottom end of LaLiga having previously been involved in relegation scraps with both Mallorca and Las Palmas.
One to Watch – Damian Kadzior
Eibar aren’t a club that places much energy into blooding and developing young players with virtually their entire squad in their mid twenties or older. Therefore we may not see a young talent emerge from their ranks this season but one new name to Spanish football fans will be Damian Kadzior.
The 28 year old is capable of operating as a winger or a forward. He featured in the Champions League for Dinamo Zagreb last term and scored 21 goals in all competitions during his two years in the Croatian capital. The Polish international helped Dinamo win the league in both seasons.
Eibar 2020/21 Targets
With one of the smallest budgets in LaLiga, survival is always the primary target for Eibar. The fact they’ve managed to achieve several comfortable mid-table finishes since reaching the top flight for the first time in 2014 is testament to how well the club is run both on and off the pitch. However it’s simply unrealistic to expect Eibar to keep on outperforming bigger clubs with more cash to spend.
This season looks like it could be particularly tricky for Eibar with some very important players having departed and little having come in, so far at least. Last season was the first in which there was a notable decline in their level and unfortunately there is a real danger that slide may continue this term, potentially leading to relegation.
LLE Prediction: 19th
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