Gaizka Garitano “We Managed The Game Well In The Final Minutes And Won A Match That We Deserved”
Athletic won their first away game of the season on Monday when they defeated Celta Vigo 2-1 at Balaídos. The victory was enough to lift the Lions out of the relegation zone and manager Gaizka Garitano praised the team after the result. He recognized the difficulty of the game and said that he wouldn’t allow the players to hang their heads after conceding an equalizer just before halftime.
“The team did a great job. We won in a difficult field, having more control of the game, and we have to continue like this. The only clear difference in the 90 minutes was the last goal. When you are in this situation it is very difficult to win. We managed the game well in the final minutes and we won a match that we deserved. In the situation at halftime what we couldn’t do was lower our heads. You can’t do that when something bad happens to you. I will not allow the players to do that. We had to remain whole and in the second half we did well.”
Garitano went on to admit that he had to be more of a morale booster at halftime instead of the tactical manager. The team had dealt with a lot of disappointment this season and it was his goal to build confidence before taking the field in the second half.
“We were able to steal the ball a lot, but then it was hard for us to choose the last pass. On some days I’ve spoken more tactically and today, morally, when you get these setbacks, you have to be more of a psychologist. It’s hard to raise your head but that is nonnegotiable. Iñaki was fine against the pressure and good when out in space. He and Dani García came off due to muscle overloads. Let’s see if they can recover well.”
Monday’s win will help Athletic build confidence and, hopefully, start climbing higher up the La Liga table. Garitano stated that the league campaign is the biggest priority, but also that the team will compete in the Copa del Rey.
“Winning gives you more confidence but these things happen. We must continue on this path. We have few points, we must have more of the ball and not lose it so easily. Every game is difficult. Every team has good players and you have to compete, especially away from home. We have to prioritize the league, but the Cup must also be a goal. We have to fight for it. I trust everyone and on Thursday we will make some changes. This is a strong squad and we are going to compete to be at the top.”
Athletic will now shift their focus to Thursday’s Copa del Rey first leg against Sevilla which will take place at the San Mamés. The Basques will face off with Sevilla in three straight games which makes things much more complicated, however, Monday’s win at Balaídos is the only thing that matters right now. January is going to be a challenging month for the Zurigorri and Garitano is determined to continue getting positive results.