Gaizka Garitano “We Are In A Position To Win Because We Are A Good Team”
Athletic will have the chance into 7th place in the La Liga table on Sunday when they travel to the Mestalla. It’s been an impressive turnaround under Gaizka Garitano and the Lions have their eyes set on Europe. The manager addressed the media following training on Saturday and said that he wants to play Valencia at their best.
“I hope for the best Valencia. They’ve reached the Cup final, they are in the best moment of the season, and they have a great squad. They are one of the best teams in the league. All of their forwards are fast. They are dangerous. The key will be scoring a goal early because if you don’t you may not score at all. They haven’t conceded a goal at Mestalla in almost 500 minutes. Teams aren’t scoring there. They aren’t even giving up chances because they are defending well. We will also have to defend well to get a good result.”
Athletic and Valencia have been two of the best defensive teams in La Liga over the past few weeks and Garitano highlighted the importance of finding a good balance. He knows that every game is different, but says that Athletic need to play their style of football if they want to return home with positive result.
“We are both defensively secure teams. Football is about having a good defensive and offensive balance. If you don’t have defensive consistency at a field like Mestalla you could be lost. Before a match you can never say how it’s going to develop, but we will need a good version of ourselves to win. We are in a position to do it because we are a good team. I’m always optimistic, especially before games.”
Garitano would go on to explain that Athletic still aren’t safe from the relegation zone despite being 10 points clear. He wants to continue taking it one game at a time, but also admitted that the next three games will reveal whether or not the Basques will be in the battle for European qualification.
“We don’t have enough points to say that we are safe, but we are closer to the top. Little by little we are moving to the higher places in the table and moving away from the lower places. We don’t have to look up or down, but forward. We are focused on the game ahead and preparing as best we can. If we continue like we have been we will continue climbing. These next three games ahead will decide our future, they will tell us what we be competing for. Valencia, Espanyol, and Atlético Madrid are difficult opponents and how we perform against them will dictate our future, so we will try to play our best.”
Along with Aritz Aduriz and Iñigo Lekue, Athletic will also be without Ander Capa who suffered a hamstring injury in training on Friday. “When one player is missing I see it as an opportunity for another”, Garitano said about the situation. “I have a lot of confidence in everyone I have in the squad. I have no complaints because it can also be a positive thing. Everyone has injuries and when someone is out someone else has to step up. Ander will miss two or three weeks because he has a strain. We will lose him for the next few weeks. We’ll see if he can be back for Atlético or after the international break.” Athletic have played fantastic football under the Mister no matter who has been on the field and they will need to be at their best again on Sunday to overcome a strong Valencia side.