Gaizka Garitano “We Have To Play Responsible Football To Keep Adding Points”
Athletic have the opportunity to climb out of the relegation zone on Saturday when they welcome Real Valladolid to the San Mamés. Manager Gaizka Garitano spoke to the media on Friday ahead of the match and said that he doesn’t think the team has accomplished anything at this point and that it’s not helpful to watch the table so closely. Right now the Lions must only think about winning one game at a time.
“I don’t know if we have accomplished anything. The situation hasn’t changed much since we arrived. We are still in a position where we have to ad points. We are doing it, but the situation is difficult. We must remain calm and take it one game at a time. Looking at the standings doesn’t help much. We don’t need to look at the table because we know that most of the teams in La Liga are above us. We have to win games to catch them. Looking up won’t help us because we must focus on playing well and winning matches. If we play a good game we will have chances to win.”
Garitano had plenty of praise fo Valladolid who he said have been in a position to win every single game this season. He knows that they have been dangerous on the road and says that Athletic must play a good game if they hope to take all three points.
“Real Valladolid have five more points than us because they deserve it. They’ve won at difficult fields and at the Bernabéu they had options until the end. In every match they have won or been able to do so. They do not have good and bad days, they are all strong and that makes them dangerous. We have to try to win tomorrow against Valladolid who play very well on the road.”
With Athletic currently sitting in the relegation zone Garitano highlighted the fact that every game is of utmost importance. There are only so many points left to play for this season and if the Basques want to climb higher in the table they must get as many positive results as possible. Winning on Saturday would be a massive step forward for the team.
“Every match that we play is important because you can’t get points back. We know that this will be a long process, not just two or three weeks…maybe not even in six or seven weeks. That’s why we shouldn’t be nervous or calm now. We want to add three points tomorrow because it would give us a big boost. We have to play responsible football to add points because adding, adding, adding, is the way to escape the bottom of the table. We know it’s a long process. It won’t happen quickly, but we want to add three points tomorrow and keep moving forward.”
After battling Alavés to a scoreless draw on Monday night Garitano wants to see Athletic create scoring chances like they did against Huesca and Girona. He believes that focusing attacks down the wings and crossing the ball into the box gives the Zurigorri the best chance to win games because it fits the strength of the players.
“This game can be like the one against Girona. The goal is to create as many scoring chances as possible, although every game is different. I don’t remember a game in the San Mamés over the last two years, and I’ve seen them all, that the team created as many chances as we did against Huesca and Girona. It’s clear that attacking down the wings and centering the ball is the style of play that gives us the best chance to win games. Those are the characteristics of this team. It’s not normal to have that many chances, but that is the idea and how I would like to approach matches.”
Garitano also admitted that there will be changes to the starting lineup against Valladolid, but refused to give any specifics. Many believe that Iker Muniain and Iñaki Williams will be back in the team, but that remains to be seen. Having just picked up a single point against Alavés the manager says that Athletic must win at the San Mamés on Saturday.
“There will be changes to the lineup tomorrow, but not many. Alex Remiro is injured. Two or three days ago he hurt his back and hasn’t been able to train. Other than Rico, Remiro, and Lekue everyone else is available to play. We came from winning at home and then tied on the road. If we would have won it would’ve been a great advantage. We weren’t able to win in Vitoria and now we have to win. If we can’t, then we have to get a draw, but it is better to add three points and continue working our way up the table.”
Athletic cannot afford to let this opportunity pass them by as winning on Saturday could pull the team out of the relegation zone. It certainly won’t be easy. Real Valladolid have played well this season and are currently fighting for a place in Europe. The Zurigorri have played well under Garitano so there will be no excuse if the team doesn’t put in another strong performance at the San Mamés in a must-win match at home.