Athletic Club fell to Liverpool 3-1 in Dublin, Ireland in Saturday’s friendly, although it was a strong showing from the Lions. Iñaki Williams leveled the score before the halftime whistle, but Liverpool brought on two new players in the second half that were able to create two more goals and win the game. Kuko Ziganda spoke to the media after the match and said that the halftime change was the biggest factor in the loss for the Basque giants.
“We were not able to win the game, but it was a beautiful atmosphere and experience. It has been a real sporting festival. They were a difficult opponent but it was a special friendly match. After going down 2-1 the game became tougher. They had a fresh team on the field and took advantage of that. They have a lot of quality and that hurt us. Even still, we had moments to create chances as well. In the first half we were able to play an even match. In the second, they changed the whole team and it was the difference maker.”
Ziganda was also asked if he will trim the squad any more than he already has. He admitted that both Kike Sola and Asier Villalibre cannot stay in the team, but took time to praise Mikel San Jose and younger starlets like Unai Nunez and Inigo Cordoba.
“It is clear that the two strikers [Kike Sola and Asier Villalibre] are not going to stay here. We have to make decisions and we will see what will happen. One will definitely leave and the other we will see. We have to think things through fully. Mikel San Jose? He is very important both on and off the field. Now we have Vesga and Beñat playing together, but he would have no problems playing with them. He is a player that gives us guarantees and we fully trust him. We need the best San Jose. Vesga is very hungry and that is helping him grow. Other young players like Aketxe, Nunez, and Cordoba will continue with us.”
Athletic will now be preparing for their Basque Cup final which will take place on Saturday against Deportivo Alaves. It will be the final game before the Lions face off with Panathinaikos in the knock-out round of the Europa League. The true start of the season is right around the corner and Kuko Ziganda and company are working hard to be ready when that day finally arrives.