Oscar De Marcos Discusses Eduardo Berizzo’s System And Being Happy At Athletic Club
Oscar De Marcos is currently in his tenth season at Athletic and has become one of the leaders at the club. The 29-year-old has seen the highs and the lows and this season the team has struggled to pick up valuable points. During an exclusive interview with Iñaki Ugalde of Mundo Deportivo the defender said that it has been a difficult year and that Athletic must start scoring more goals.
“Regarding the results it’s clear that, yes, the season has started worse than we expected. We have seven points from seven games and we expected to have more, especially with playing more games at home. We have done well on the road in difficult games, but at home we have dropped points. It’s been difficult for us against teams who sit back behind the ball, but that isn’t just happening to us. The other day a report came out showing that teams who have less possession tend to win the game in this league. We don’t want to play that we. We want to continue controlling games, but we need to score more goals. That is what we have been missing.”
Despite the lack of positive results De Marcos made it clear that the team believes in Eduardo Berizzo’s system and there is no doubt among the squad that this is the style of football they want to play. He also highlighted the fact that Athletic have been booked more than any other club in the Primera and is confused as to why that has happened.
“In the team there is no doubt that we want to play like this. In the end, everyone likes to have the ball, but it’s true that we have to create more chances in front of goal because if not we can get behind. That’s a bit of what we have been working on during this break. We have been able to get the ball into the box multiple times every game, but from there we haven’t done well. We do know that we have more bookings than any other team in the league. The other day I saw that we had five yellow cards and only committed seven fouls. It’s true that there is too much distance between us and the second team in term of yellows and fouls. We aren’t a super aggressive team nor do we commit many ugly fouls. It’s confusing.”
Last season the team really struggled to find their identity under Kuko Ziganda, but De Marcos says that the system is clear with Berizzo as the manager. Athletic want to control every game and constantly attack. The team has faith in the style and enjoys playing this type of football.
“Ziganda’s way of playing was different, but it was also faster than the previous system [under Ernesto Valverde]. Right now we have a style that is very clear, although we haven’t created the chances that we want. We want to control the game, to have the ball, and attack at all times. That is what we like. We believe in it and we will fight so that the possession gives us chances and doesn’t hurt us.”
La Liga has seen an interesting trend this season where teams that have less possession tend to win more games. De Marcos believes that this is because teams playing on the road will patiently wait in defense and look to counter, which is what he says opponents have done to Athletic at the San Mamés this year.
“Most teams are getting more points away from home because the home teams seem to have more possession and the visitors are comfortable behind the ball. In our case, against Betis and Barcelona, they wanted to have the ball and we tried to press up. We were able to steal the ball several times and that is how we created chances because they were unorganized and unfocused after losing possession. That is what other teams have used against us at San Mamés.”
When asked about the atmosphere at the San Mamés, De Marcos said that the players have a responsibility to give the fans something to cheer for. The relationship goes both ways. That being said, he’s seen the fans create an incredible environment at times this season and says that it makes a difference to the team.
“Something that I have always said about the atmosphere is that it has to go both ways. We have to give the fans something to respond to. It’s clear that what they give to us, we feel it and appreciate it because it’s a major boost. We need everything. In the game against Madrid a few weeks ago the atmosphere was spectacular. There are matches in which the atmosphere is incredible and the opponents are drowned out, but then there are others in which we don’t help either.”
The team is well aware of the situation that they are in. Having a game in hand against Rayo Vallecano is definitely a bonus at a time like this, but De Marcos warned that the players can’t start thinking that it will be an guaranteed three points. They have to take the season one day at a time and he doesn’t think they should be worried about their position in the table so early in the year.
“We are ready to play the match against Rayo in Vallecas, but we have to win it. We are aware that if we win it will help us, but seeing yourself in that situation can make you have more anxiety. We can’t be impatient, but we know that the game is very soon. We have had points escape us but I think it would give us tranquility in the table to win. It’s not necessary to be worried right now, but we are aware of the situation that we are in. We have to take responsibility and push ahead.”
De Marcos then praised the Athletic fans who he says treat the club like a religion and are always ready to support the players. He recognizes that every club in La Liga has been improving and that makes it difficult for Athletic to compete with their player policy. The 29-year-old believes that it is up to the players to take pride in their club and keep giving their best to help Athletic succeed.
“I have been here for ten years now and living in the city you hear the negativity. It’s normal because, in Bilbao, Athletic is a religion. Everyone talks about it and the fans support the players. When things go wrong you fight for your fans. It really makes you more responsible and helps you focus more on football and Athletic. It’s true that every year gets more complicated. Every club has improved economically, Athletic too, but the market is the same. Competing against clubs that have a global market is getting more complicated and the most important thing is for the players that are here to continue giving our best and trying to improve so that we can endure.”
Despite having plenty of competition at his position, De Marcos is thankful to compete every day with Ander Capa. He says that they both offer something different to the team which is good for everyone, especially the club.
“Capa is very good and when he comes into the game he offers things that I do not have. We are both good players, but we have very different characteristics when it comes to being creative. It’s good for both him and myself and it benefits the team. I’ve been playing in this position for many years now and I am happy to play somewhere else if that is what the team needs from me.”
Despite the team not having a great start to the season, De Marcos has played at a high level. He struggled with injuries for the majority of the previous year and is happy to be fully fit and healthy once again. He says that as long as he can help the team he wants to stay at Athletic and continue contributing to the club.
“Last year I did not have a rhythm because of injuries. I missed almost three months with an ankle problem then I had a sprain. This year I feel very well and I’m doing a lot better physically, especially being able to complete the entire preseason. I don’t think I endure as much as Aduriz, at least not right now. There will come a time when I will have to see how I am each year, but I want to be here and help the team where I can. As soon as I see that I can’t help I don’t want to hurt the club. As long as I’m well I want to be here. My priority is Athletic and I want to be here.
In closing, De Marcos was asked about rumors that he has rejected offers from other clubs such as Manchester United. He revealed that he has never had a formal offer, but has had clubs check in on him. He made it clear that he is happy at Athletic and wants to continue representing the club and competing alongside his teammates at the San Mamés.
“I’ve never received an offer from another club. Some clubs have asked about my situation when I’ve played well, like the first year under Bielsa or the second year under Valverde. They ask how you are feeling but I don’t want to move fro here. I’m very happy and I want to fight with my team, with my teammates, and with those I’ve been fighting with all these years.
The international break is quickly coming to an end and Athletic will be back in action on Saturday when they travel to take on Eibar at Ipurua on Sunday. It will be the second straight Basque Derby for the Lions who will be desperate to pick up three valuable points. Three days later they will play the rescheduled game against Rayo Vallecano at Vallecas which, if they can pull off a victory, could see Athletic significantly improve their place in the table.