Thursday’s Basque Cup final was certainly an interesting affair. Mikel Vesga opened up the scoring against Alaves who responded quickly with a penalty thanks to Ibai Gomez. In the second half Aritz Aduriz pulled the Lions back ahead, but a second penalty saw the score leveled at 2-2. Alaves did have two players sent off late in the second half which eventually led to the referees walking off the field. The game had not even ended a winner could not be named. After waiting for nearly an hour to find out what was happening, Kuko Ziganda addressed the media and said that the end of the game was a shame for everyone involved.
“It has not been the greatest result that we wanted from the match. It is shame on the part of everyone that the game ended like this. The outcome was not adequate for the performances. I don’t remember every experiencing anything like this before. It’s a shame that we could not finish the game and that it ended this way. Could we get an explanation from the referee? No, we could not. He went into the locker room and we will find out when he writes the minutes from the match. We will see what he writes and what the reasons were.”
The Athletic manager did take the time to discuss the actual performance on the field, saying that it took a while for Athletic to take control of the match. He said that he was happy that many players got the chance to participate in the last preseason match of the summer.
“For more or less the match was equal at the beginning. There was little build up and little cohesion. The game was played in small stretches and was not easy. As the game progressed, their pressure dropped a little and we settled in and began controlling the match more. We had good fortune to score a good goal and we wanted more. Considering the opponent and how the game progressed, it was a fine display. We reacted well to their goal and were able to score again. We had runs, opportunities, and scoring chances. It was another test in which many players were able to participate. I’m happy to see how they fight and they never gave up.”
There were questions about the players left out of the squad such as Asier Villalibre, Kike Sola, and Ager Aketxe; however Ziganda was quick to say that the omissions were simple coaching decisions and nothing to read in to. He also looked forward to the upcoming Europa League clash with Panathinaikos and believes that the Lions can get a good result if they play their style of football.
“Players missing this match are not indicative of anything. They were all left out because of different circumstances. We are now looking forward to Thursday’s match. We are a team that trusts in ourselves. We have a big game away from home and it will be important to get a good result to bring back to the San Mamés. I think we can play a great game if we trust in our style of football.”
With the preseason now over, all eyes will turn to the new campaign. After defeating Dinamo Bucuresti, Athletic Club has a new opponent in the Europa League in the form of Panathinaikos. The Lions will travel to Athens, Greece on Thursday for the first leg of the knock-out round tie and the return leg will take place a week later at the San Mamés. In between the two meetings the La Liga season will officially begin with Athletic hosting Getafe on Sunday in Bilbao.