Dani García “My Role On The Field Is Clear And I Know What The Team Requires Of Me”
It may only be two games into the season but Dani García is already looking like a terrific signing for Athletic Club. The midfielder has been able to remedy most of the issues in the center of the pitch and his ability to control the pace of play has benefited the Lions in a major way. In a recent exclusive interview with José Artetxe of DEIA the 28-year-old admitted that the team hasn’t played their best yet, but that he is convinced it will all come together in time.
“So far we haven’t showed the best that we wanted, but I think we are on the way to achieving that. Later on the team will have different aspects polished. We are working on improving and we are going to the death with the ideas of the coach. Berizzo’s system is clear and there are two major things. We want to be the ones with possession, which is something we all have to do better, and if we are successful we will make fewer mistakes which makes it easier to defend. If you do make mistakes, which we have done, we have to get back to defend. When we have the ball the objective is to score goals. We need to combine play and score. Sometimes we have done it, but at times we have lacked completion.”
Athletic were scheduled to play Rayo Vallecano on Saturday but saw the game postponed due to safety concerns at Vallecas. Like many others, García believes that the league should have found a way to play the game because of how it could affect the schedule down the road, but understands that the situation is out of their hands.
“Taking into account the fact that there are so many problems with adjusting the calendar I don’t think they did the right thing. But little else can be said because it isn’t up to us. Now we go three weeks without playing and these matches are needed to catch our rhythm and strengthen the ideas of the coach. It is necessary to play games, but we will try to compensate with training.”
García was a captain at Eibar before making the switch to Athletic and revealed that he was used to a different style of football under José Luis Mendilibar. That being said, he perfectly understands his role at Athletic and is happy to do his job if it helps the team find success.
“At Eibar the game was oriented toward the wings and here it is about advancing from the inside. We have players with great quality in the team who are able to take the risks involved in playing through the middle. I’ve been playing between in the center-backs and I have to cleanly play the ball forward and then filter passes between the lines. I still have to improve just like everyone else. I understand that I must be very good with the ball and I also have to help the team defensively. Athletic will be more brilliant when those in front of me are able to have more of the ball.”
Many have said that García should be a definite starter due to his form over the past few years, but he refuses to think that way. Although he does recognize what he has done well, he is still aware of weaknesses that he needs to improve. As demanded by new manager Eduardo Berizzo, he believes that the team will play games in the same way that they practice every day.
“I’m a realist. I know what I have done well and what I have to improve. My role on the field is clear and I know what the team requires of me. I don’t mind running and helping others if it leads to goals and success for the team. The coach believes that for us to play how he wants we need to do the work we do in Lezama. I agree and trust that the results will be seen. I am someone who believes that you play the way the train.”
When discussing the system under Berizzo García stated that the team is starting to find their rhythm. It took the players a while to get used to the intense training sessions, but now they are able to practice at a high level. The fans may not have seen the team’s best so far, but the midfielder says that it is coming and is thankful for the patience.
“We are getting along well. At first the training sessions were difficult because I came from playing under Mendilibar for three years where the method was different. We had a hard time with so much demand on our legs, but now we are used to it. The results aren’t being seen yet and I have to improve just like everyone else. But I am convinced that you will see the difference. We want to play at a very high pace and the fans are showing patience which is appreciated.”
Athletic have already played two matches in La Liga so far this season, beating Leganés 2-1 and drawing 2-2 with Huesca. Earning four points definitely isn’t a bad thing, but García feels as though the team should have won their second match because they were leading 2-0 in the second half. Now they have turned their attention to Real Madrid who will visit the San Mamés on 15 September.
“Taking four points out of six isn’t bad, but we are unhappy because we could have won the second game. On top of that it turns out that we won’t play again for a few weeks which is even more annoying. I hope that the game against Huesca will help us learn. Next we will play Real Madrid and we will face it like every other game. We’ve already been able to identify things which need to be corrected which is good before playing a strong opponent. We have to be positive and play our style of football.”
Turning his attention to his career as an Athletic Club player, Dani García stated that his reception by the fans has been outstanding. He’s already feels loved by the fans at the San Mamés and is dedicated to helping the team turn things around after last year’s disappointing campaign.
“Coming onto the field was incredible. Playing here as part of the Athletic team is special and the fans show their support the whole game. We are the ones that have to repay the fans. I’ve noticed that the fans are eager to see Athletic do well. We have to forget what happened last year. These are things that happen in football, not only at Athletic. We must learn from mistakes and try to be better.”
Making the decision to leave Eibar and join Athletic was difficult for the midfielder, but García believes that it was time to make the change. He’s getting along well with his new teammates and knows that the pressure is on for the club to succeed this season. He may already be an important player but understands that he has to continue working hard to earn his place in the squad.
“It was a key decision for me and I knew I had to make a change. I was convinced that it was the best thing for my career. I left a very good team and I’m with another one that is equally great. I know that I was going to get along well with the players here and that the pressure would be greater, which will make me a better player. The atmosphere has been great and now I have to focus on earning my place.”
In closing, the 28-year-old admitted that making the switch to Athletic brought with it fear that he wouldn’t be able to play his best. He’s worked hard since day one to prove himself and has been named as a started in the team’s first two games of the season. Training alongside Ander Iturraspe has helped García settle in and he hopes to continue convincing Berizzo.
“It is logical that I had some fear that I wouldn’t play at my best level, but I arrived with the intention of earning my place. I worked hard since the beginning of the preseason and I’ve been rewarded with minutes. I can’t relax though because I have to continue improving. I’ve always liked Iturraspe. He trains at a very high level which makes me do the same. I was never guaranteed a starting place in the team, not now or before I signed. The coach is the one who decides and that means that I have to perform my best.”
Like other clubs Athletic will now be going through the international break for the next two weeks, but that doesn’t mean that training will stop. The Lions are already focused on their upcoming match against Real Madrid which will take place on 15 September at the San Mamés. Berizzo is expected to have Aritz Aduriz and Iñigo Martinez back in the squad and will be able to field a very strong team in hopes of picking up three more points.