Gaizka Garitano “We Are A Team That Doesn’t Give Up, That’s Non-Negotiable”
Athletic are still unbeaten in friendly action this summer after Saturday’s 3-3 draw with Paderborn. The Lions scored two late goals to pull level in the second half and Gaizka Garitano told reporters after the game that he was proud of his players for refusing to quit. It was an intense match, but that’s exactly what the Lions want to prepare for the La Liga season.
“This game was played at a very high pace. Our opponents will start their season a week before us and have had more time to prepare and demanded a lot from us. It’s been ideal for what we want from these matches. No one has been injured and I’m happy. We are a team that doesn’t give up, that’s non-negotiable. We finished the game well with the pride of not wanting to lose. We always want to win, be it a friendly or in the league. We turned around a game that we almost lost and we’re happy for the work against a team with good players.”
Garitano did note that every time Athletic had a promising attack they tended to give up an even better one on the other side of the field. He made it clear that the Basques have to improve defensively, while also praising the quality in the team.
“It worries me that when we attacked well our opponents did more damage back to us. Practically every time we had a chance when then had to defend. We have to correct that and we are in the correction phase of the season. The team has also played well in phases for what could be done. We are a team that handles pressure better, we’re intense when we don’t have the ball because of the characteristics that we have. There were times that we moved very well and we have quality players. Surely we can draw conclusions of things to improve.”
Gaizka Larrazabal was one of the stars of the match, scoring the opening goal in the first minute of play. When asked about the 21-year-old Garitano quickly pointed out that he wouldn’t talk about individuals. The preseason is a time for young players to show what they can do and he will keep giving them chances.
“I don’t like talking about individual names or highlighting one over another. These are preseason games that are worth a lot, especially for the young players. We get to see what they can do in these games against good opponents. That’s where you measure them. We are going to give them minutes so they can continue demonstrating what they can bring to the team. ”
Athletic will be back in action on Sunday as they face off with Borussia Monchengladbach to end their time in Germany. “We will change the lineup tomorrow”, explained Garitano. “Those who came on late today and those who didn’t play will be on the field first. The idea is to try to add another 70 minutes. We are still in the preparation stage and today some came off who were already quite tired.” Tomorrow’s game will be the biggest test the Lions have faced so far this summer.