Gaizka Garitano “The Team Gave Everything But We Have Things To Correct”
Athletic had a chance to take a firm grasp of 7th place in the La Liga table on Sunday when they traveled to Real Madrid, but the match didn’t go their way. Karim Benzema scored three goals to send the Lions back home with a 3-0 defeat and no points to show for their efforts. Despite the poor result, manager Gaizka Garitano believes Athletic had chances to win the game.
“It was even after the first half. For all the balls we stole, our attacks were bad. We could have gone ahead 1-0 and in the same counterattack they made it 1-0. When you are forced to take the game forward you must leave space and have quality. When it was 2-0 we could have gotten back into the match with Iñaki’s header. Bale took advantage of the space and that’s how they scored the third goal.”
Garitano believes that the match was closer than the scoreline would suggest. He also refused to discuss the refereeing at the Santiago Bernabéu but did admit that being handed so many cards early in the first half changed the way that Athletic played the rest of the game.
“The result is bigger than I thought the game actually was. We lacked everything when we pressed and we lost many balls around the box. For what happened in the game I thought the final score was high but I have nothing to say. We have things to correct on defense. We are making some mistakes that we weren’t making before. It’s been harder to score goals in attack. I waited until the 75th minute to make a change because I didn’t see the team playing badly. They were fine. I can’t make any justification after losing 3-0. It’s true that the referee loaded us with cards that weakened us, but I can’t blame the result on that.”
Iago Herrerín has received a lot of the blame for the defeat after making two errors which resulted in goals. Garitano was quick to defend his goalkeeper who he thinks has performed at a high level all season.
“So far Herrerín has been good. It’s normal for a goalkeeper to make some mistakes. What La Liga keeper doesn’t make mistakes from time to time? We haven’t won here in 14 years, it’s no accident. Benzema was very good and we also made some mistakes that helped him score. They have won three consecutive Champions League titles with these same players. We have to think about the Leganés match.”
Despite the loss, Garitano says the team is still confident with just 5 games left on the schedule. He explained that his players gave all they had against Real Madrid and praised Iñigo Lekue who made his first start of the season.
“We have high morale, but we have to recover players because we have several injuries. We are only thinking about the next game. The team gave everything. We made a brutal effort. Well, Lekue had not played for a long time and he endured the 90 minutes and had a strong game. Now we will focus on Leganés. That is all that matters now.”
Athletic still control 7th place as they currently hold the tiebreaker over Alavés. It will be up to the Lions to decide their own destiny in the final five games of the season. Every single point is crucial now and Athletic could set themselves up for European qualification with a win over Leganés on Wednesday.