Gaizka Garitano “If You Want To Go Far In The Copa Del Rey You Have To Play The Best Teams”
After defeating Huesca 8-0 on aggregate Athletic Club will now face Sevilla in the Copa del Rey Round of 16. Manager Gaizka Garitano spoke to Athletic TV after the drawing on Wednesday and admitted that it will be a difficult tie, but said that to go far in the competition you have to play the best teams.
“We will be playing one of the best teams in the league. They are at the top of the table and it will be a difficult match, but the truth is that if you want to go far in the Cup you have the play the best teams. Now we are matched against one of the most difficult ones. When the moment arrives, we will try to advance to the next round.”
Athletic have only met Sevilla once before in the Copa del Rey, winning 4-2 on aggregate back in 2009, but Garitano has no interest in what happened in the past. He stated that the previous meetings won’t have any affect on how this tie will go, although he recognizes that the Basques have always done well in the Cup and want to continue that trend.
“For those who love historic statistics it is a favorable draw, but those of us in football don’t give it much importance. There are different teams, different players, and each match is a different story. Let’s see if we are able to advance and continue in a competition that, historically, Athletic has enjoyed a lot.”
Athletic will play the first leg at home which, interestingly, Garitano says has now become the desire as opposed to the past when teams wanted to play at home in the second leg. The Lions will face Sevilla three times in one week as their La Liga match falls in the middle of the Cup tie, but the manager says it isn’t a problem for either club.
“In the past teams always wanted to play the second match at home in front of their own fans. Now there is a new tendency, even from the fans, where you want to play the first game at home. In any case, we cannot choose and neither increases or diminishes the possibility of advancing. We will play Sevilla three times in one week. It happens a lot that you are drawn in the Cup against a team that you play at the same time in the league. It’s a normal part of the game and it makes it a little difficult to prepare for each match. It’s not a disadvantage because they will have the same problem.”
The Copa del Rey is a very special competition for Athletic Club who have won the title 23 times. Right now the league campaign takes precedence due to the Lions trying to climb out of the relegation zone, but when they face off with Sevilla in January they could be in a better position. No matter where they sit in the table come January, Athletic will give the Cup the attention it deserves as they look to make another deep run in the Copa del Rey.