Raúl García “We All Want To Qualify For Europe”
Raúl García scored two goals on Sunday to lead Athletic to a 3-1 win over Celta Vigo at San Mamés. The victory brought the Lions within two points of 6th place and in position to secure their place in the Europa League next season. García said after the game that it was important for the team to come out with the right focus and not concede the first goal against a desperate opponent.
“It was an important match and we were able to get the right result. From the beginning we were very good and we won. We talked about the games against Alavés and Valladolid, that we didn’t come out strong. Today we went 100% to try and get ahead early and it went well. We are professionals and the farewells had nothing to do with the performance. The team was solid and we wanted to win.”
Celta entered the match in a battle against relegation and in real need of points. That made them a dangerous opponent, but Athletic were prepared and responded well. García admitted that he’s sad the season is almost over because he feels as though he’s playing his best football at the moment.
“We knew that Celta needed points and if they scored first it would be difficult to turn things around. I’m happy with my goals and to have played well. I had an injury in January that forced me to stop for a while and it’s good for me to finish stronger. On the one hand, I’m sorry that the season is almost over because I’m feeling really good and contributing a lot to the team.”
Athletic have come a long way from battling relegation back in December. The Basques have done the unthinkable by putting themselves in a position to qualify for Europe, but nothing is settled yet. García made it clear that the team can’t underestimate Sevilla and will have to play their best to get a positive result.
“We have made it to where we are today with hard work and confidence. We’ve had a hard time this season, but now we will go to Sevilla to get the ticket for the Europa League. Everything will depend on us against Sevilla. We could finish 6th, 7th, or even lower. It all depends on us and what we do. This team has enough ambition to win. We all want to qualify for Europe, but it will be complicated because Sevilla is a team with great players. If we play well, we will have our place.”
A special tribute was given to Markel Susaeta, Ander Iturraspe, and Mikel Rico after the match. The trio will be leaving the club this summer and, like everyone else, Raúl García is sad to see them go. The midfielder had nothing but praise for Susaeta and stated that he has no idea what Aritz Aduriz is going to do.
“The fans gave Susaeta a heartfelt ovation. He deserves it. We have to give him that respect that he has earned for many years. He deserves this and more. We are sad because three important players are leaving. I don’t know what Aduriz is going to do. Every time he goes out he shows what he is worth.”
The entire season comes down to Saturday’s trip to Sevilla. If the Lions can manage a victory they will finish 6th while a draw will secure 7th and a spot in the preliminary rounds of the Europa League. If Athletic lose they would be in danger of falling out of the top seven with Real Sociedad and Espanyol both trailing the Zurigorri by three points and having the tiebreakers.