Gaizka Garitano “We Played Well, But We Deserved To Win”
Before Athletic’s match against Barcelona manager Gaizka Garitano highlighted the importance of being brave and playing hard to get a good result. The Mister surprised everyone with his lineup selection, but the team had the entire week to prepare for the game and put in a terrific performance which saw them secure a point in a scoreless draw. After the game Garitano praised his team, saying they deserved to take all three points at the San Mamés.
“Although they dominated the second half more, we had the most chances. They were better in the second half, but in the last 15 minutes we had strength and a few chances to win. We played well. We had the clearest opportunities so we are happy, that’s true, but we deserved to win. It’s not easy to take a point from Barcelona. I am very happy with the work we’ve done.”
Garitano continued to reiterate his belief that Athletic should have won the game, but also recognized the unbelievable saves made my Marc-André ter Stegen to keep the Lions from scoring. With the Basques unable to find the back of the net he was proud to see his team defend so well to keep a clean sheet.
“We were closer to winning than they were. We had more scoring chances, more corner kicks, and we were closer to winning. For me the best player for Barcelona was the goalkeeper. That says a lot about our performance. They have a fantastic goalkeeper. We had a hard time trying to score goals, although we defended well. If you can’t score you have to be perfect in defense and the team was very strong.”
The game changed after the hour mark when Iker Muniain was brought on for Markel Susaeta. Athletic became much more dangerous going forward and Garitano admitted that he made the change to give the team some fresh air and a spark. With Sunday’s draw the Lions now sit 13th in the La Liga table but know that they must continue working hard to add points every weekend.
“The changes we made gave us a lot of strength. We knew that it was going to be a long game. Iker Muniain was very good, he gave us a spark when he came on the field. Iker was brought on to give us a breath of oxygen, to give us freshness for the last half hour. Balenziaga is always reliable. He was a ten tonight and he’s the type of player you will go with to the death. This type of match helps the team grow. We are happy with the work of everyone. We got a point but we weren’t far from getting all three. The table is very tight. What we have to do is compete in each game and keep taking steps forward to get out of a complicated situation.”
There was a bit of drama at the end of the game when Oscar De Marcos was shown a second yellow for what was called a hand ball. However, replay showed that the ball struck the back of his shoulder and when asked about the booking Garitano quickly stated, “I’m not going to talk about refereeing decisions.” The club will likely appeal the booking, but for now the team will begin preparing for Monday night’s match against Huesca.