Gaizka Garitano “If We Draw We Will Be Happy, But The Goal Is To Win”
When Gaizka Garitano took over as the Athletic manager on 4 December his only goal was to lead the team out of the relegation zone. Since then he’s brought the Lions all the way up to 7th place and in position to qualify for Europe on the final day of the season. A draw will be enough to guarantee a place in the Europa League, but Garitano rubbished the idea of both teams playing for one point when he addressed the media on Friday.
“That’s something people will believe, but Sevilla will play to win and we will too. I don’t know any other way to go out onto the pitch. Both will come out trying to win, as is the case with every game. We want to win. If it was the 23rd day of the league we would try to win. If we draw we will be happy, but the goal is to go out and win. We were good last Sunday and we want to repeat what we did well. Sevilla have a very good team and they have the same need to win that we do.”
Athletic haven’t beaten Sevilla at the Ramon Sánchez Pizjuán in league play since 2011, but they did win there in January in the Copa del Rey. Garitano made it clear that the Lions do not fear their opponent and wants to end the season having qualified for Europe.
“We’ve already beat them in the league game at home and at their stadium in the Cup. It’s possible to win despite the team that they have. We’ve already done it this year and our intention is to do it again. It’s the final game and we have to send all our forces to achieve this goal that is so beautiful. To finish the comeback by qualifying for Europe would be unforgettable.”
Qualifying for Europe won’t be easy, even if Athletic need just one point. Garitano says the team will have to go with everything they have and fight for a positive result to earn their place in the Europa League.
“I would be very happy to qualify, as would the fans, players, and the club. At least we have come to the last day alive and with the option. You have to give everything and play a good game to win. This game is decisive and we both have something to play for. We will try to play a good match and win, which is always the goal, knowing that it’s the last game and that we have to make our last effort to qualify for Europe.”
Several players have already voiced their opinions on the situation. Both Beñat and Iker Muniain have said that they can’t go into the game playing for a draw and it’s that mentality that could decide the match. It all comes down to this and Athletic know there will be no second chances.