Oscar De Marcos “We’ve Achieved Good Results But It’s Not Time To Relax”
Athletic’s unbeaten streak under Gaizka Garitano had to come to an end at some point and it finally happened last weekend when the Lions lost 2-1 to Real Sociedad at the Anoeta. Now the Basques have turned their attention to Sunday’s match against Barcelona in hopes of quickly getting back on the right track. Oscar De Marcos took the time to address the media following Thursday’s training session and admitted that the league has been very tight this season.
“All of the teams are very close in the standings. The one who wins gets separation for one week, but then you lose and you are back in the group again. The point difference is very small. We want to continue with what we are doing. We’ve had a good run of seven games without losing and we want to catch that form again and pull higher up the table to be more calm. This year we’ve already had some complicated moments so the mentality and security from the last matches is important.”
Normally 40 points have been enough to save clubs from the relegation zone, but when asked about that De Marcos said that he really doesn’t know how much it will take this year. Everyone is capable of winning matches and the standings are close.
“I don’t know how many points will be enough for safety, I’ve wondering that too. It seems that it will be more than the usual 40 because all of the teams are winning. Years ago the top three teams won everything and the others didn’t. Now every match is close and there is never a clear favorite. Salvation will be a little more expensive.”
As Athletic extended their unbeaten streak every week more and more fans began to talk about the possibility of qualifying for Europe. However, De Marcos made it clear that he has never mentioned that and says that the team is singularly focused on taking it one game at a time. They know how difficult the year has been and can’t start relaxing right now.
“From my mouth you haven’t heard any talk about Europe. I don’t know if any of my teammates have, but we know the difficulties we have gone through. We want to go little by little because we know the league is difficult. We have been in very good form, but we must be realistic. We spent Christmas in the relegation zone which had never happened to me before. It’s all very high and we have to continue with that mentality to win every game. We have done well and we need to continue. Right now we are in a group closer to relegation and we have to get out of here. The only way to do that is to add as many points as possible.”
Even though their streak came to an end the players have still built a lot of confidence that was lacking at the beginning of the season. Most of the team had never been in such a bad situation as was faced a few months ago and it was hard to face being in the relegation zone.
“It’s true that when you get more positive results you feel more calm. It’s logical and happens with everybody, but we can’t forget the past. That situation after the Levante game was very hard. Those are moments you have to live in your career, but when you aren’t used to it or you come from good years it’s harder to face it. We have known how to act at the right in the good and bad and achieve good results, but it’s not time to relax.”
One of the biggest reasons for the team’s turnaround has been the massive support from the fans at the San Mamés. De Marcos highlighted their involvement in recent games, making mention that when the fans and players are together Athletic are capable of beating any opponent.
“The fans at the San Mamés have helped us a lot in these last games at home. We have said many times that they are the most faithful fans that exist. In complicated moments is when we need them more and that has been shown in the past few games, starting with the Girona match. There was a great atmosphere and everything was positive between the fans and the team. We are together and that is very positive.”
There is no denying the improvement that has been made under Gaizka Garitano. The new manager changed the culture and system which brought immediate results and De Marcos said that the players are very happy with the Mister. He also took the blame for the dismissal of Eduard Berizzo, saying that the players were the ones who didn’t play well, but now things have gotten much better.
“We are happy with Gaizka. I don’t know where we will finish the season, but we are happy with him. Each coach has his own way of doing things and understanding football. Berizzo didn’t have any luck. He worked a lot and it seams that as soon as things didn’t work well the coach was blamed. I don’t think that was the case. We as the players had the most guilt. He had a good group of coaches and we worked very well with him, but we didn’t perform like we wanted. Now Gaizka’s vision has come together well and we hope to continue like this. He is from here and he is loved. I was lucky enough to play with him at Alavés. I already knew him personally and we are happy with him.”
In closing, De Marcos took a moment to praise new signing Kenan Kodro. Fans were somewhat shocked when the club announced the transfer, but De Marcos says that the striker is capable of scoring a lot of goals and that he has been really surprised with Kodro’s quality in training since joining the team.
“Kenan is a very good players who can score a lot of goals. It’s true that he’s only been here for a week, but he is fitting in well and he’s looked good in front of goal. He’s integrated into the team and his quality will be seen in time. He has surprised me a lot and I really like him.”
If Athletic are able to take all three points against Barcelona it will go a long way in helping the team climb the La Liga table, but a loss could put them very close to the relegation zone. It certainly won’t be an easy game by any stretch, still the Zurigorri have been playing fantastic football and being at the San Mamés is a much added bonus. Once again the Basques are facing another final and they know just how important this game will be in the long run.