Athletic Club had the perfect opportunity to take a big step forward in their pursuit of European qualification when they hosted Deportivo La Coruña at the San Mamés on Saturday. A win would’ve seen the Lions climb to within five points of their goal, but it wasn’t two be. Two early goals and defensive errors saw the Basques fall 3-2 in another disappointing performance from Kuko Ziganda’s team. After the game the manager spoke to the media and admitted it hasn’t been a good year, but insisted Athletic can play better.
“The defeat is hard to swallow and this year hasn’t been good. The fans want more and I am aware that the year hasn’t been good. We have shown two different faces in one week. We had the intention of continuing our form from the previous two games, but were not able to do that. Our opponent played more with their hearts and their heads and their two early goals affected us a lot. Our form performance against Villarreal wasn’t a mirage, we can repeat it.”
When asked about the club’s pursuit of seventh place in the table, Ziganda said he doesn’t believe the battle is over, but acknowledged that the defeat certainly makes it much more difficult. He said that football is a game of details and that is where the Lions lost the battle on Saturday night. They did play better after the break, but it just wasn’t enough to rescue valuable points at home.
“I don’t think it is totally over, but it is more complicated. In their first two chances they scored goals with ease. Football is a mater of details and we were not able to defend that. We made mistakes and gave them a bigger field to attack. We let them be very comfortable and that penalized us. In the second half we played with more heart, that we cannot deny. In the second half we showed better, but is a pity that we were not able to turn the game around.”
Athletic Club will be up against it again in their next game as they will travel to the Santiago Bernabéu to take on Real Madrid on Wednesday. Luckily, the Lions will have Ander Iturraspe and Unai Nuñez available again after the duo missed Saturday’s game due to suspension. With an eight point gap for seventh place and only six games remaining, every match is a final.