Gaizka Garitano “I’m Happy With The Performance, We Have A Strong Team”
Athletic have yet to lose a friendly this summer and have looked stronger with each passing game. Gaizka Garitano’s team has been building on what they accomplished last season and defeated Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-0 on Sunday to wrap up their time in Germany. The Mister shared his thoughts on the trip after the game and is pleased with what he’s seen.
“I’m happy with the performance. It’s been very competitive and these two games have been good for us because they have been against teams from a strong league with good players. Both were well-prepared teams that will start their leagues soon. The games suited us well. I prefer to play games like these even if we lose them instead of playing against Segunda B teams. Today we got to see more of the players and the team.”
Garitano prefers to play friendlies against stronger opponents because they help the team prepare better for the start of the season. Borussia were a great test for the Lions who know that they must be at their best when they kick-off La Liga at San Mamés against Barcelona.
“My assessment is positive. We are doing good work, without injuries, and the matches are starting to resemble reality. I prefer stronger opponents, a team from Germany that is playing in UEFA. In the end, these are the games that make you better. The team has been working well and already has the dynamic on the field that we learned last year. The team is quickly recognizable and I like that. We also have things to improve, obviously, because we are in the preseason. We have to take another step on a physical level. Little by little it’s coming together.”
With a squad of 33 players, there just won’t be room for everybody this year. Garitano admitted that he already has a good idea of who will be leaving on loan but will wait until he’s seen more before making a firm decision.
“We have a strong team and everyone wants to play. I more or less already know who is going to stay and the number of players in the squad, but I want to see a little more and now we have three more games to do it. Some already know what will happen to them, just like others, and we will communicate it next week. We are seeing those who have been here for a long time as well as many young players who are showing good quality. It’s all about building a strong squad and trying to start the league well and have a good year with those who stay.”
Athletic’s goalkeeper situation is one of the main topics of discussion this summer with Iago Herrerín and Unai Simón competing for the starting role. “We have very good goalkeepers” Garitano answered when asked about the positional battle. “They have to fight for the job. I’m calm no matter who is playing. Athletic has always had good goalkeepers, for a lifetime. We have two very good ones right now.” Both keepers made brilliants saves on Saturday and will continue competing throughout the preseason.