Athletic Club’s 3-1 win over Villarreal on Monday is already being called the best game of the season. The entire team, collectively and individually, put on a strong showing and left fans with an idea of just how good the team can be. Following the game manager Kuko Ziganda told reporters that he too believes it was the best performance of the year, but the best part is knowing that the fans were happy watching the Lions roar to a big victory on the road. He says they will continue to fight like this in the final games of the season.
“This was the best match of the season. The fact that our fans have taken joy in this game is the most satisfying thing. We already said that we will not give up and we will be an honest team. We will fight until the end. We know we can play like this and we will keep striving for these performances until the end of the season. It is impossible to say that we don’t like this Athletic.”
Moving on to the specifics of the game, Ziganda pointed out Villarreal keeper Sergio Asenjo who made the scoreline look much closer than it actually was. In addition, Iñaki Williams started again over Aritz Aduriz and was able to score a goal and provide an assist. The manager revealed that Aduriz did not start once again because he wanted the keep the same consistency from last weekend’s draw against Celta Vigo.
“Asenjo was spectacular. He took away four great chances and make things very difficult for us. Despite that, there wasn’t a more fair result. It was a good day for everyone, both collectively and on an individual level. You can’t highlight anyone in particular. Iñaki needs to play to be comfortable in that position. He has shown that he can play the nine. I like to think that the more he plays there the better he will be. If we are smart we will take advantage of that. Aduriz not playing? The last game he did not start and we had everyone available to repeat the same lineup. We wanted to keep the continuity we had seen. When he has the chance to play, the opposing defenses are attentive, because when he is on the field he will score.”
In closing, Ziganda admitted that Villarreal is a hard team to beat, especially at Estadio Cerámica. He knows just how important the three points are and says that the Lions will not give up their goal of qualifying for Europe as long as they are mathematically still in contention. Above all, the team wants to finish the year strong and give the fans something to be excited about.
“We know the strength of Villarreal and that at home they are twice as strong. Playing against pressure in the opposing field makes you uncomfortable. The other day against Celta we saw that and again today. The season isn’t over. There are seven games left. When you can enjoy games like today it is very beautiful. I will enjoy it. Reaching Europe is difficult to achieve but we will see how things unfold. Let’s see if we can win Saturday against Deportivo. We want to finish with feeling knowing that we played hard and our fans were happy.”
Athletic Club will be back in action on Saturday when they will host Deportivo La Coruña at the San Mamés. With only seven games left on the schedule the Basque giants find themselves seven points back of the last European qualification spot. If the Lions can continue playing like this there is every reason to believe that they can stay in contention, but it won’t be easy. Every game is a final from here on out and that makes Saturday’s fixture another must win.