Gaizka Garitano “We Did Much Better Today Than In The Last Few Weeks”
Athletic needed to win on Sunday to keep control of 7th place in the La Liga table and were certainly up for the challenge. The Lions pulled off an impressive 3-1 win at San Mamés and will go into the final match of the season with a chance to secure 6th place. After the game, Gaizka Garitano praised his team’s performance and explained that he didn’t want to know about the other results until the game was over.
“We did much better today than in the last few matches and that helped us to get the desired result. We depend on ourselves and now we will try to add more points. I didn’t want to know any of the other results, but I was almost certain that at least one of our rivals would win. I didn’t want to know anything about the other games until the end of our match.”
Iker Muniain played a big role in the victory and spent time on both the left and right win. Garitano revealed that he actually instructed the captain to alternate at different times and was pleased with the result. He also praised Beñat and Dani García who were able to control the midfield.
“I asked Muniain to start in one position, but to keep changing constantly, especially when there was a stoppage. When he moved to the right he did well and we decided that he would stay on that side for a long time. The idea was to alternate the wings for a while, but Iker was comfortable in the space inside as a false winger. We had more fluidity with the ball than before. Beñat and Dani García played very well together.”
After the game Markel Susaeta, Ander Iturraspe, and Mikel Rico were given a tribute as they will be leaving the club this season. Garitano said that the team won’t be the same without the trio and also admitted that he believes Aritz Aduriz will continue at Athletic next season.
“They are three very important players, phenomenal. They are beloved in the locker room and will be three important losses. Three players are leaving and we are sad to see them go. Aduriz has known for a long time that we want him to continue, but he was sidelined by an injury and we have left the decision in his hands. We are trying to convince him to continue and I think it’s going to happen. He can give a lot because he’s not in a position where we have a lot of other players. I think we are going to convince him.”
Sunday’s win means that Athletic will control their own destiny. A win against Sevilla on Saturday means the Lions would finish 6th, but even a draw would guarantee a place in the preliminary rounds of the Europa League. Athletic must get a positive result because if they lose there is a chance that Real Sociedad or Espanyol could overtake them in the table. The last game of the season will be a final.