Gaizka Garitano “I Don’t Like To Draw At Home But We Will Value This More Tomorrow”
Athletic had the chance to move 6 points clear of Alavés for 7th place but were unable to capitalize on the opportunity Saturday at San Mamés. The two Basque clubs played a physical match that ended in a 1-1 draw and saw Athletic protect their place in the La Liga table. After the game, Gaizka Garitano admitted that the result was fair and that the team must value the point against a strong opponent.
“I think the draw was fair. We had more possession but were equal with our opponent in other statistics. The match was very balanced, with both teams having their own half. Today we lost an opportunity but they also have to evaluate their point in the proper way. When we took over the team clubs like Alavés were much higher than us in the table. We are doing something right. These are the draws that you aren’t happy with, but you value it in the morning. I don’t like to draw at home but we will value this more tomorrow.”
Athletic played much better in the second half but struggled in the opening 45 minutes. The Lions gave away possession far too many times in the first half and that is what Garitano blamed for the poor performance.
“We played again a team that was also very physical. The problem was that we lost balls in easy situations in the first half. We scored a great goal but the feeling at the time was that they were better than us. Then they scored in an isolated moment. We looked more like our good version in the second half. We were more intense after the break and our game was better.”
With only three games left this season, Athletic will control their own destiny. They must play well in the remaining matches and Garitano believes that they will get a few important players back in the team for the final stretch.
“We have to recover players. We are missing Ibai, Dani, and Capa who have been playing regular minutes. Then we have Yeray and a few others who have had discomfort. Others like Iñaki have played a lot over the past three games. We have to adapt to the players and the circumstances that we have. I believe that we’ve done that. We have done well and we are going to have players back in the team for these last three games.”
A win would have been massive for Athletic, but Basque Derbies are never easy. “If we won we would be six points ahead”, Garitano pointed out. “We always want to win, but we aren’t Barcelona or Real Madrid.” The manager also praised Markel Susaeta who started against Alavés, though he refused to discuss his contract status. “Susaeta did well and has been at the same level as the rest of the team. That’s difficult to do without playing for a while. We will speak about his future at the end of the season.”