Gaizka Garitano Has Total Respect For Eibar Ahead Of Saturday’s Basque Derby
Gaizka Garitano has a very special relationship with Eibar. Having grown up at Lezama and failing to reach the Athletic first team he eventually found his way to Ipurua where he appeared in over 140 matches for Los Armeros. After retiring from football Garitano returned to Eibar as an assistant and then took over as the manager in 2012 where he led the club from the Segunda B all the way to the Primera. Now the manager of Athletic, he will face Eibar on Saturday and did not hide his respect for his former club during his pregame press conference.
“I spent 11 years at Eibar. I’m very fond of the club and, other than tomorrow, I hope they win every game. I learned a lot at Eibar. It’s a club I love very much. They are a reference for others and I wish them all the best. Mendilibar is doing a great job. As an Eibar Socio I am delighted with his project over the last few years. Mendilibar has shown much more than I have. He has more experience.”
Eibar will always hold a special place in Garitano’s heart, but this weekend his goal will be beating his former club. The manager recognized that Eibar play strong attacking football and warned that Athletic will need to be at their best to get a good result in the Basque Derby.
“Eibar’s style of football is very offensive and we will have to be careful of their strengths and take advantage of their weaknesses. We are two teams who are doing well right now. It’s not going to be an easy game. We will have to be at our best because Eibar make things difficult. We will fight because there are 3 points available at home. You can be ambitious while also being prudent. We are ambition and look forward and to be at the top. I’m very excited, but at the same time I’m cautious.”
Athletic have improved significantly under Garitano, losing just once in their 10 league games since the coaching change in December. The Mister didn’t hold back praise for Eibar, but he also made it clear that his side are one of the hardest teams to play against in La Liga.
“We are a brave team, but that doesn’t make you win. We are also doing very well, especially at the San Mamés. We are a tough team to play against. We are a team. We don’t depend on one single player, and neither do they. We are a strong group that play as a team, and they do as well. We are always trying to improve. We struggle to score and it will be difficult to create a lot of chances, especially at home we have scored few goals.”
Garitano’s lineup hasn’t changed much from week to week, but that isn’t surprising. “When the results are good you don’t make changes”, he said when asked about it. “There can always be some variation. I have called 18 players. Iñigo Córdoba wasn’t called because I can only have 18 players. I am leaving out players who deserve to play. If it were up to me I’d call more, I’d have everyone.” Regardless of who is on the field for Saturday’s game it’s going to be an entertaining game and one that could have massive ramifications on Athletic’s season.