Athletic Club played their second friendly of the summer, earning a 2-0 victory over FC Sion and their first win under Cuco Ziganda. The first goal came through a Sion own goal, while Raul Garcia was able to double the lead early in the second half. Following the game, Ziganda spoke to the media and made it clear that he is happy with his players’ performances and that he is using every game to gauge just where the team is as the prepare for the upcoming season.
“We want to see where we are, regardless of the opponent. We are happy with our performances against both teams so far, but we take it one match at a time. Until the 35th minutes it was very, very good – positive movement, speed, pace, interceptions, and creating chances. Then the success finally came with the first goal. Of course it was an own goal because that is sometimes how it happens in football. As far as what we are looking for, with the good things, we what what we want, where we want to be, and now we have other types of sensations after a victory.”
Ziganda went on to say that the second half wasn’t as sharp as the first, but that the players had a lot of desire and intensity. He wants to keep the competition going and understands that results aren’t the most important thing during the preseason.
“In the second half we also played well and scored a goal. It did not have the continuity of the first, but the players showed a lot of desire. Everyone wants to play and they do not slow down for a single minute. Let’s see if we can keep up the competition and intensity. We take everything seriously whether it is a hard day of training or a game, we don’t hold anything back. In the preseason there are things more important than the result, but it is still important. The physical growth, rhythms, order, and cohesion are more important and in this game they were pretty good.”
From there, the Athletic manager took a moment to praise Ager Aketxe and Inigo Cordoba for their strong showings, stating that they are natural fits into the first team system. Despite the win coming against a weaker opponent, the important thing was that the players show their best football.
“Aketxe and Cordoba had good games. They are younger but their game fits the team. It is natural and habitual. They have been good, but not only them because in general almost everyone was comfortable and strong with the ball. For most of the game we were better than our opponent. I am also aware that this was not Basel, which is on another level. But we still played out game and the player did what they were asked to do. They should be confident because we are going step by step.”
In closing, Ziganda revealed that Laporte was taken off in the first half as a precaution and that the hope is that his muscle pain is nothing serious. Raul Garcia was also substituted during the game, but that was because he wanted to see a different lineup combination. He has made not decisions on trimming the squad so far, but that time is quickly approaching.
“Laporte was taken off today out of precaution. He had some muscle pain but he did not ask for a change. We hope this is just an overload without any major setback. Also Raul Garcia agreed to be taken off because I wanted to see other players. I wanted to see different lineups together and the players take it and run. I used Mikel San Jose in defense because he is one more option we have and Saborit being away influenced that decision. I haven’t made any decisions about trimming the squad but we will continue to give everyone chances while we can. I want to take the time to think about it and make the best decisions.”
Athletic Club will be back in action on Monday when they face off with Fenerbahce which will close out their Festival of the Alps. The Lions have less than two weeks before they open their season against Dinamo Bucuresti in the first leg of their Europa League qualifier. With not much time remaining, every training and friendly match is as important as ever.