Gaizka Garitano “We Have To Keep Looking Up”
Athletic are officially in the battle for European qualification. Wednesday night’s 3-2 win over Levante saw the Lions pull to within 4 points of 4th place and secure their third straight victory. After the game, manager Gaizka Garitano told reporters that it was a match of two halves and that he was pleased to see the team create chances despite not being at their best.
“We had a good first half and we were superior. In the second half, we lacked freshness and were tired. It’s happened to us all. The second half was theirs and I’m not complaining about that. The two penalties seemed very similar from the bench. We had to suffer. When the 2-2 came it was deserved. Levante have very good players and they went for everything. Without being very good, we created chances.”
Garitano went on to explain that seeing Raúl García and Ander Capa leave the game with injuries changed his plans for later in the match. That being said, he is fully confident that everyone in the squad is capable of playing a key role in the team.
“Raúl García had some problems and wasn’t able to continue. Capa asked for a change too. They weren’t able to continue and the injuries didn’t allow for more offensives substitutions. I usually make offensives changes, with Kodro or players who can press. Iñaki was tired and tried to take defenders away when Levante were pressing higher. We have a lot of players and I have confidence in everyone. We don’t have another player like Dani García, a six who plays in front of the defense, but we do have other midfielders who can play well.”
In closing, Garitano stated that the victory practically guarantees Athletic’s permanence in La Liga. The Lions have picked up 32 points since the managerial change, though Garitano put all the praise on the team. Now they will turn their attention to Sunday’s difficult trip to Getafe.
“This third consecutive victory almost seals permanence. We have 43 points and when we took over there were just 11 points. That speaks well of the reaction of the team. The places above are still far away and now we have to go to Getafe and try to win. We have to keep looking up and now we have to look at higher goals. We have to continue and not settle for this.”
Only 8 games remain on the La Liga calendar for Athletic and they know that every single point is invaluable. The Zurigorri have a realistic chance at qualifying for Europe after being deep in a relegation battle just four months ago. Gaizka Garitano has set the standard of not thinking too far ahead which means that Athletic will continue to take it one game at a time.