Gaizka Garitano “The Effort From The Team Was Incredible”
Athletic may have only been able to earn a 1-1 draw against Espanyol on Friday night, but Gaizka Garitano was very proud of his players after the game. It took a header from Raúl García with just 10 minutes left to equalize, although the Lions dominated the match from start to finish. Garitano told reporters that the team gave all the energy and effort they had to find the back of the net.
“The point is because the effort of the team. Our opponent pushed us and the effort from the team was incredible. We can’t be happy because we didn’t win. We pushed and attacked and took many risks to win. The team gave everything they had. I can’t blame the players because they emptied their effort. We have tied, but we took a lot of risks to win. We have given everything to tie and we finished in final minutes with Espanyol suffering.”
Iker Muniain was the man of the match for Athletic and put on a show at San Mamés. He was constantly taking defenders and winning dribbles which warranty heavy praise from the Mister. Garitano also has faith in Ibai Gómez who delivered the assist to tie the game.
“Iker starts on the left and works inside. He creates superiority when in the middle and can leave the wing to Yuri. Muniain carried the weight of the game. He’s the different type of player that we have in terms of driving the ball and taking on opponents. We fully trust Ibai Gómez. He’s taken advantage of the time he was given.”
Iñaki Williams was taken off at halftime and Garitano explained that the striker just didn’t have the space to utilize. Kenan Kodro came on after the break and he and Raúl García were able to give their teammates targets inside the box on crosses.
“We’ve used Raúl as the center-forward before. Iñaki plays great games when we have the lead and Raúl can play there at times when we are dominating possession or playing close to our opponent’s goal. Iñaki didn’t have space tonight and we needed a target in the box. Their two center-backs were their best players. When the opposing team is locked up we need two finishers.”
Garitano may not have been happy with the result, but he was still proud of his team. The Mister also wasn’t pleased with the VAR reviews in the second half which he believe disrupted the rhythm of the game. “I didn’t understand the stoppages in the second half”, he said. “The rhythm was broken because of the VAR reviews that I don’t think needed to be reviewed. I’ll also say that it didn’t influence the result, but the referees must give continuity to the game.” Athletic will now have the entire weekend to rest up and recover before welcoming Atlético Madrid to San Mamés next Saturday.