Yeray “We Showed Defensive Strength And Must View The Point As A Good Result”
Athletic have been much better defensively under new manager Gaizka Garitano and have yet to concede a goal through three matches. Monday’s match against Alavés ended in a scoreless draw which saw the Lions only pick up one point, but center-back Yeray Álvarez told reporters that the team has to see it as good thing to build on in this weekend’s match at the San Mamés.
“It was a continuous battle in the center despite the help from the fullbacks. We showed defensive strength, which we had against Girona, and must view the point as a good result, especially if we win against Valladolid. We were looking for victory. We only had a few chances and we didn’t create as much as danger like we did against Girona. When it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. The game was a bit broken, which we didn’t want to happen. In the end they had one chance and we had another. It’s a point that does little, but it does help us.”
Yeray is pleased with Garitano’s defensive system which doesn’t require the players to man-mark and says that it has limited mistakes that opponents can use to create chances. the backline has been much more comfortable which has paid off with three straight clean sheets.
“When we are closer together the defense has more stability, which is what we’ve been looking for. There are not so many one-on-ones and we have support from the midfield. We were more comfortable today. Many teams are looking for a mistake to take advantage of and our goal is to not let that happen. A poorly cleared ball can hurt you and a well cleared ball can sometimes lead to more. We don’t want to ever give up a goal, we always want a clean sheet.”
When asked about Athletic’s position in the league table Yeray was quick to point out that it isn’t even the halfway point of the season. He knows that the fans are unhappy seeing the team in the relegation zone, but believes that Athletic will turn things around if they continue playing well in the matches to come.
“The first half of the season isn’t finished yet. There are three games left and we are only thinking about Valladolid. We will treat it as a final and we know that every team in this league will compete. The environment of the San Mamés and our confidence will be vital to get the three points. The fans don’t like to see the team down here, but we knew how complicated it is to play at this field. We lost the previous two visits and we knew it would be difficult. We gave everything we had and it didn’t end in the result we wanted, but it will.”
Yeray has been one of the best center-backs in La Liga this season and has looked even better in Garitano’s system. The defense seems to have turned a corner which will be important if the Lions are going to climb the league table. Athletic will host Real Valladolid at the San Mamés on Saturday and could move clear of the relegation zone with a win at home.