Gaizka Garitano “The Most Important Thing Is To Train Well This Preseason”
The preseason has finally begun for Athletic. Earlier this week the players underwent medicals examinations before holding the first training session of the summer on Thursday at Lezama. Prior to taking the field, Gaizka Garitano addressed the media where he explained that the team has lofty expectations this year and are focused on preparing well during the preseason.
“The illusion is tremendous. If there is something that characterizes Athletic, it’s that we want to have more enthusiasm than any other team. We want to train and try to have a good preseason to get things right from the start. We will start from the first day and have a strong preseason. That’s always the best thing to do. We need more communication than last year, which was wonderful when we played at San Mamés. I have the desire to train, to have a good preseason, and arrive at the first game prepared. This year is different because I’m starting from the beginning and that’s better.”
Looking at the squad, Garitano believes that he has a very strong group of players. He knows everyone well and made it clear that age won’t be a factor when deciding who will stay and leave this summer.
“The squad is the best. The players we have are the ones we love the most. We have the base from last year and we all know each other. All the players have passed through my hands and we know each other well. There are reinforcements, but mainly from here. With a squad of 28 players it’s not easy for other players to come in. We can’t build the team based on age, but by how each player performs. Aduriz is an example to everyone.”
There are currently 28 players training under Garitano, but that will grow to 32 once Unai Nuñez, Unai Simón, Iñigo Martinez and Oihan Sancet return from vacation. Gorka Guruzeta will continue training separately as he recovers from ACL surgery. With four goalkeepers in the squad, the manager is open to various options to ensure that everyone gets to enjoy regular minutes.
“There is a big squad and during the preseason we will have to evaluate everyone. We will see the needs of the team and what each player brings. Everyone already knows what the club thinks of them and these days they will also have the opportunity to talk to me. There are four goalkeepers and the idea is that they can go with us or leave on loan. There are also options to play with Bilbao Athletic.”
Athletic will begin the season by hosting Barcelona at San Mamés. It will be a difficult game to kick off the new year, but Garitano explained that the Lions have to play everyone twice no matter when the games are scheduled. The important thing is preparing well during the preseason in order to start the year strong.
“We have to play against everyone and the preseason has only just begun. There is a lot to work on, but starting against Barcelona is always difficult and complicated. They are one of the toughest opponents. The most important thing is to train well this preseason. It’s a good match for us because we will be playing at home. We played well against them last year. We have to start well so that we don’t end up in the same position as last year on Matchday 15.”
Before the La Liga campaign begins the Lions will play in eight preseason friendlies. “I’m not a coach who likes to play a lot of games in the preseason”, Garitano admitted. “I think eight is enough. Now we have two or three weeks to train a lot and build a good base.” All eyes are now on August’s match against Barcelona, but Gaizka Garitano and the team will take it one day at a time to be at their best when the season finally begins.