Dani García “We Have To Prove That We Deserve To Be In Europe”
Athletic have completely turned their season around with Gaizka Garitano taking the helm. When the coaching change was made back in December the Lions were in the relegation zone of the La Liga table and now find themselves 7th with just two games left to be played. That being said, Athletic has failed to capitalize on golden opportunities against Alavés and Real Valladolid, but Dani García told Fuera de Juego that he is confident in the team.
“We have played good matches but I’m not an alarmist just because we’ve had two games where we were bad with the ball. The Mister is right though, we have to improve that. At this point, no qualifying for Europe would be a failure. We’ve suffered a lot to get here. It’s up to us and we can’t let it escape, although it’s true that we have wasted two great opportunities. We are being stalked but everyone below would love to change places with us.”
Some fans have gone as far to say that the team’s poor form over the past two weeks is because the players don’t want to finish 7th and have to play the qualifying round of the Europe League. Of course, García was quick to put an end to that ludicrous idea and says that Athletic must prove that they deserve to play in Europe.
“I don’t care if we have a short vacation and have to play early rounds of Europe. The people saying that we don’t want to play and want a longer vacation are wrong. We are going for it to the death. We have to prove we deserve to be in Europe. I believe 100% in this team and that we can get the three points on Sunday with the support of the fans.”
Another topic of conversation has been Athletic’s defensive approach to matches under Garitano. Early on the system yielded fantastic results but lately it’s been hard for the Lions to score goals. García doesn’t think that the style of play is an issue at all and called for patience.
“Look at matches from Sevilla, Betis, Athletic, or Barcelona and tell me if there is a good or a bad style of play. You have to be patient. It’s a disappointment not to have won our last games, but talking about the style is a waste of time. When you lose there is more demand here than at Eibar. Sunday I didn’t play a good match and I know it. I accept the criticism.”
The biggest news on Monday was the announcement that Markel Susaeta would be leaving the club in the summer. Dani García said that the squad won’t be the same without the captain around and that everyone is going to miss him a lot. Susaeta’s legacy will continue to grow.
“Susaeta not continuing here is hard news for everyone because of the emptiness he’s going to leave in the locker room. I’m going to miss him. He’s been at the club since he was 9 years old, 506 games, and everything will be valued over time. What he’s done is incredible. I have a very good relationship with Susaeta and I had the feeling that he wasn’t going to continue, but you always hope that things change. Everyone has to make their own decision, but I’m going to miss him very much.”
Athletic will have another fantastic opportunity on Sunday when they welcome Celta Vigo to San Mamés. If the Zurigorri can manage a victory, while also seeing Real Sociedad, Alavés, and Espanyol drop points in their matches, Athletic would officially qualify for Europe. It’s going to be another difficult fixture but Dani García is confident that the Lions can get the job done.