Raúl García “The Goal Is Qualifying For Europe And That Would Be Beautiful For Everyone”
When Athletic take the field on Sunday they will have everything to play for. A win over Celta Vigo, coupled with a few other favorable results around La Liga, would see the Lions officially qualify for Europe. This will also be the final game at San Mamés for Markel Susaeta, Ander Iturraspe, and Mikel Rico. On Thursday Raúl García addressed the media and called for the full support of the fans for such a massive fixture.
“Sunday is going to be a farewell day because it’s the last game at home. There is no better way than to do things well and win so that everyone is happy. The fans have to realize that they have to be with us. There is nothing good about whistling your own players during a match because you are throwing stones on your own roof. Iturraspe, Rico, and Susaeta are all important players. I’ve been surprised by the murmur when they haven’t played well. They have no reproach for anything.”
García was quick to praise Susaeta who gave his farewell press conference on Wednesday. Regardless of what people think, García believes that Susaeta handled everything well and was able to say goodbye in the way that he wanted.
“Susaeta has never thought about his own good, but for the good of the group. When a player gives everything for a club you have to put the carpet out for him. I believe that he did things the way he should and the way he wanted to yesterday. He’s a discreet person. He could have talked publically but he wanted to respect the club because of the situation we are in. He is an example for everyone. I can’t say anything bad because this is the way he wanted to end things. There is no better example of a professional than Markel.”
Athletic haven’t been in the best form over the past two weeks which has led some fans to claim that the players don’t want to finish 7th because they would have a shortened summer vacation. García stated that he is always training so he doesn’t actually have a vacation, but also called the claim ridiculous nonetheless.
“Qualifying for Europe is complicated. We’ve had the luck to get it in recent years, but I’ve always said that we have to be at a very high level. We want to be there. It’s our goal and we are working to be happy. For good and bad, what is said outside the club I don’t give it any importance. I don’t mind playing the earlier rounds in Europe because I don’t have a vacation anyway. There is a lot to play for now and qualifying for Europe would be as nice for me as if it were the first time. Like I said, that nonsense isn’t important to me.”
In closing, García stated that the fans really don’t know what this season has been like for the player. Going from the relegation zone to possible qualification for Europe brings plenty of emotions. Still, the team is aware that the final two games of the season are going to be challenging.
“People aren’t aware of what we’ve been through until January. Mentally it’s very hard. Everyone talks to you about it on the streets, but things have gone well and the team has returned to a better level. The goal is qualifying for Europe and that would be beautiful for everyone. You have to value things and be aware that everyone wants to be up in the table. We don’t depend on others, we have to win.”
Athletic are in the perfect position to seal their place in Europe next season. If the Lions can topple Celta Vigo at San Mamés all they would need is for Real Sociedad, Alavés, and Espanyol to drop points in their matches and Athletic would officially secure a top-seven finish. However, if the Zurigorri drop points they could fall out of the European zone and need even more help on the final day of the season when they travel to Sevilla.