Athletic Club Enter The International Break In Great Condition After Statement Win Over Atlético Madrid
Athletic had not beaten Atlético Madrid since 2013 before Saturday’s 2-0 win at San Mamés. It was a run that had to end at some point and Gaizka Garitano was determined to make that happen. “We hope to break the streak against Atlético”, he said in Friday’s pregame press conference. He meant it and he was full of confidence. The Mister spent the entire week preparing the team for a fight and the Lions dominated every facet of the match.
With three points in hand, and other results around La Liga going in Athletic’s favor, the Basques now find themselves just 3 points off of 7th place with 10 matches left in the season. The international break has officially begun and Athletic are entering the stoppage in great condition heading into the final stretch of the campaign.
There’s no denying just how good this team has been. In 14 games under Eduardo Berizzo the Zurigorri only earned 11 points and with Garitano at the helm they have secured 26 points. Organization and direct attacking have been the two keys to success and it’s paying off in a massive way. Since the coaching change Athletic have boasted one of the best defenses in La Liga while also becoming much more dangerous and creative going forward. Just a few months ago Athletic were drowning in the relegation zone. Today they are one of the hottest teams in the league and have all the confidence and momentum in the world.
Not only are the Lions playing fantastic football, Garitano finally has a fully healthy squad. Friday’s training session was the first team all year that the manager had every single player available and that will go a long way in helping Athletic challenge for European qualification. Ander Capa and Aritz Aduriz may still not be cleared to play at the moment, but having the two-week break will give them the time to reintegrate into the team.
Athletic have entered the race for Europe, but that’s not something that Garitano wants to hear. He’s made it clear that the team will continue to take it one game at a time and, truth be told, that has brought the best results. The Zurigorri know where they’ve come from and have no interest in getting ahead of themselves. With two weeks to prepare for the next two months, Garitano will use every training session wisely and make sure that his team is ready for 10 more finals.