After a string of poor results Athletic Club showed their best face on Saturday when they dominated Real Betis at the San Mamés to cruise to a 2-0 victory. The Basques used width to create chances and swarmed the visitors when they lost possession, making it extremely difficult for Real Betis to have any control in the match. Afterwards, manager Kuko Ziganda said that he was satisfied with the performance and that he believes the fans will be happy with the win at home.
“We are satisfied with today’s performance and result. There is little left at the end of the season but we want to finish with a good taste in our mouth. I am happy with today’s match and I think the fans will be happy too. We were superior to Betis and that has a lot of value because they are a great team and have been on an incredible unbeaten streak. We made things uncomfortable for them and that says a lot about this team. We played more together, more organized and that was the difference. After our first goal Betis changed their strategy and caused us some problems, but we kept them from finding a rhythm and it is because we pressed when we lost the ball. We closed down space well.”
Ziganda went on to discuss his decision to play with three center-backs, saying that he believed it would help the team after conceding so many games recently. He also praised the performances of Iker Muniain and Beñat, who have been out of the starring lineup, calling them players who can change a game.
“I am glad it went well and it is a serious option moving forward. We didn’t play with three center-backs because of Betis, but because I thought it would best utilize our players. Going into the game we had conceded a lot of goals and I thought this was a good option. When Iker [Muniain] is in the team things are different. Beñat and Muniain are players who can change games and they helped us a lot today. We played very well because we were together and showed what this team is capable of doing.”
In closing, the manager made it clear that he wants to give the fans as much joy as possible and for them to leave every home game happy and excited to come back. When asked about his future Ziganda admitted that President Josu Urrutia hasn’t spoken with him about it and that he is only focused on preparing for the next game.
“What we want is for our fans to leave the stadium happy and for them to expect to see exciting things that make them feel proud. I think the merits of today will give courage. My future? There is nothing new. I see the President regularly and we haven’t talked about it, he hasn’t said anything to me. My commitment to this club is 100% and I can never doubt this team. Right now the only thing I am thinking about is the match against Alaves next weekend.”
Athletic Club will be back in action next Saturday when they will travel to take on Deportivo Alaves in the last Basque Derby of the season. The Lions will get back Oscar De Marcos and Raúl García who were suspended against Real Betis, but Mikel Balenziaga is still a question mark after suffering a hamstring injury in training a few days ago. For now fans will celebrate the big win against a strong opponent, but with two games left on the calendar there is already one eye fixed on the summer.