Ziganda: We Want To Play A Game Worthy Of The San Mamés
With only three games remaining in the season Athletic Club doesn’t really have much left to play for. The Lions are no longer in contention for European qualification, but they also aren’t in danger of relegation. Still, the Basque giants have a lot of pride in their club and that is enough to motivate the players on Saturday against Real Betis. In his pregame press conference, manager Kuko Ziganda admitted that the Beticos are a very strong side, but made it clear that Athletic want to play a game worthy of the San Mamés.
“Real Betis are a team that are having a great season, especially in the second half of the season. They look dynamic, organized, and are playing with a lot of confidence. They like open games where they have plenty of possession and that means we are going to have to run a lot. It is difficult to take the ball from them so we know it is going to be a hard game. If we have to play them we want to do things well, play a good games in front of our own fans. We will be playing at the San Mamés and that means we have to give our all and give the best version of ourselves. We want to play a game worthy of our stadium.”
Ziganda went on to admit that the team has felt a lot of negativity due to the results this season. He knows that the team hasn’t performed at the highest level and that has made the players feel helpless at times. Still, he believes that everyone can learn from what has happened this season and be better because of it.
“We know how the season has gone and that the negativity we feel is because of the results we have had. One thing goes wrong and we face criticism, but that happens because the fans are suffering from what they are seeing. What is causing us the most pain is that we are not giving the level expected of us, so we feel helpless when things don’t go well. We all want the same thing and are angry that we are not able to give it, especially at home. This has been an important season for all of us to learn from. I’ve already been in this situation before.”
In closing, the manager addressed several issues such as Aduriz recently returning to training and the possibility of Iker Muniain starting in place of Raúl García who is suspended. He also touched on Mikel Rico’s comments from a few days ago where the midfielder said the players are ultimately responsible for this season, but also stated that the manager carries the blame as well.
“Aduriz is doing well and he’s going to be called in the squad with the intention of him being available to play. He had to stop for a while because of the injury, but he’s had a few training sessions and he will be an available option for the game. Iker [Muniain] is also doing well. It is difficult to keep him off the field because of what he brings, but we have had to be cautious of his fitness. Will he be able to start? We’ll see. With De Marcos and Balenziaga unavoidable the logical choice is for Lekue and Saborit to play but we will make that decision. Rico’s comments? He is one of our best players this season along with Kepa, Unai [Nuñez] and Córdoba. If the rest of team hasn’t shown their best level them I am the most at fault for that.”
Without Raúl García, Oscar De Marcos, and Mikel Balenziaga there will be some turnover in the lineup on Saturday. At the same time, four players are one booking away from suspension which is not a good things with the Basque Derby against Alaves looming next weekend. Considering the fact that Real Betis manager Quique Setien has admitted that a few starters will rest against Athletic, this match could be very interesting. Regardless, the fans at the San Mamés will be demanding a victory and that is exactly what the Lions want to give them.