Gaizka Garitano “You Always Need To Play A Good Game Against Barcelona And Have A Bit Of Luck”
Athletic manager Gaizka Garitano knows what the team is up against heading into Sunday’s match against Barcelona. During his pregame press conference following training on Saturday he called the fixture “an opportunity” while highlighting the importance of taking advantage of playing at the San Mamés. Above all else, defense will be the deciding factor against the league leaders.
“We have to view this game as an opportunity. We are playing at home, with our people, and it’s going to be a beautiful match to try and beat a great team. We’ve played well at home and have created scoring chances. We need everyone to be ready for tomorrow’s game. You always need to play a good game against Barcelona and have a bit of luck as well. You have to play hard against Barcelona and be bold when you don’t have the ball. They are scoring a lot of goals and besides defending we have to score goals.”
Garitano recognizes that Barcelona are one of the best teams in the league and knows it’s going to be a challenging match. If the Lions can defend well it will go a long way in getting a positive result, but the Basques must also finish their chances in front of goal to make things more difficult for their visitors.
“This is one more step. We’re going to play against the best team there is today and that requires our best level. Logically, it’s difficult to have the ball against Barcelona. Barcelona always scores goals. We must convert our chances in attack. The draw in the first match gives us a guide to the things we must repeat in tomorrow’s game. The opponent is tough, that’s clear, but we are proving that we are doing things right. We are coming from a loss and a win would be very important for the standings and to prepare us for the matches ahead.”
Kenan Kodro has been called up for the first time since joining Athletic, which means that Gorka Guruzeta was left out of the squad. Garitano praised the new signing and also made mention of the fact that there are too many midfielders in the team for everyone to be in the team for a match.
“I’m happy with everyone but in the midfield we have a lot of players and I can’t call them all. Mikel Rico just came from an injury and I see other who can offer more right now. He needs more time in training. Kodro is a specific central forward that we have now. Guruzeta is more of a second striker and Aduriz isn’t available to us. He has come into the team very well and we are happy to have him.”
Sunday’s match at the San Mamés could be a decisive game for Athletic who are 6 points off of Europe and only 3 above the relegation zone. A win would go a long way in helping the Lions continue to climb the table, but a loss could put the club in another dangerous position. Garitano and the players know just how important the match will be and have been preparing all week for a battle.