Gaizka Garitano “Athletic Is A Brave Team”
Athletic manager Gaizka Garitano has been hard at work preparing his team over the Holidays and the Lions will finally be back on the field Monday night as they face off with Celta Vigo. A victory would be enough to lift the Basques into 16th place in the La Liga table, but it won’t be easy. Garitano told reporters in the pregame press conference on Sunday that changes are necessary and so are improvements.
“It’s always necessary to make changes, especially without Yeray and Raúl García who were playing regularly and will not be available, as well as preparing for each opponent. We know that we have some things to improve and we have to continue doing the things that we have done well. We have to improve on not turning the ball over on offense like we did against Valladolid. We have a lot left to work on. We know that we have to be closer to winning games and that is something we have been working on the past 15 days.”
Celta Vigo will be without their leading scorer Iago Aspas, but Garitano is still wary of their dangerous attack. The manager understands that every game is difficult in La Liga and says that Athletic must be prepared for an evenly matched opponent no matter who is on the field.
“If they are missing Aspas they have others who are important. They have Brais, Boufal, Maxi Gómez, who can unbalance a game. Not having Aspas won’t change their style of play. I’ve reviewed the results of the last few days and they all finished in a draw or a victory of one goal. No game was easily decided and no one wins easily, except for Barcelona. We have to prepare for even and difficult matches. I’ve seen the team do well in all four matches since I have been in this position.”
Garitano went on to say that the Athletic squad is brave and ready for fight for every point. He’s accepted the challenge of battling against relegation and is hopeful that the team will add more points starting with Monday night’s fixture.
“Having a punch and having bravery are different things. The last match ended with Guruzeta, Williams, and Aduriz with Capa and Yuri on the wings. It’s impossible to be braver in the lineup. We have to create more chances away from home with courage. If anything, Athletic is a brave team. I accept this charge naturally. I am happy, hopeful, and optimistic knowing the responsibility I have and the situation in which I have taken over the team, which was a situation of relegation. I see the players work day by day and we have added points in the previous games. We hope this game will go even better. In football the mental aspect is as important, or more so, than the physical or technical. In this aspect I see the team well and in a good mood, but of course you have to improve things.”
The press conference ended with Garitano being asked about the current transfer window and possibly adding players to the squad. He refused to comment on the topic and said that he is solely focused on being ready for the vitally important game against Celta Vigo.
“I won’t talk about the winter market. I’m the coach and we’ve had some meetings, but that happens in every team. Like every team there are players who could arrive and players who could leave, but I’m not worried about that. I’m aware, but there are other people working on that. I’m focused on preparing for the Celta game with the players I have. Every case is studied. We have the whole month of January to see situations. I’m more dedicated to preparing the team. Nothing has changed about Remiro’s situation.”
A win on Monday night would lift Athletic to 16th in the La Liga table and just 4 points off the middle of the standings. The Basques have yet to win a game on the road this season and are determined to change that against Celta so that they can start 2019 with positivity. It certainly won’t be an easy game, it never is in La Liga, but the Zurigorri know their situation and are ready to turn things around in a big way.