Gaizka Garitano “We Showed That We Can Compete Against A Good European Team”
Athletic have looked strong this summer and put in yet another promising performance on Saturday, defeating West Ham in penalties at London Stadium. The Lions scored two goals in the opening 15 minutes but allowed the hosts to equalize shortly thereafter. In analysis, Gaizka Garitano told reporters that the team went out to score goals early on and made too many errors at the back.
“We started well and were committed to scoring goals. We lost the ball and that cost us two goals. Still, this was a really good test. It was a test that showed we can compete against a good European team. We are a team with a recognizable system. We are testing things, especially in the midfield, but we have a recognizable base from last year that is competitive and on which we have to continue building.”
Garitano went on to explain that his side must continue scoring goals like they have so far this summer. Preseason friendlies are much easier than the regular season, but the manager believes it’s important for the strikers to start building confidence now
“We have to be reliable in defense, keep a solid base, and increase the number of scoring chances that we are creating. We are a team that has been scoring goals and we can’t lose that, but in preseason teams have less structure in defense. Opponents play more loose, playing the ball and taking more risks. You don’t have that in the league. I think that strikers live on trust. It’s important for strikers to score because we depend on it a lot. It gives them life. Iñaki has been doing well and he scored many goals for us last year.”
In closing, Garitano shared his thoughts on the young players in the squad. Gaizka Larrazabal will stay with the first team this season, while Dani Vivian and Oihan Sancet will split time between Bilbao Athletic and the seniors. All three have impressed the manager.
“Gaizka gives us things that we don’t have in the team. He’s a powerful winger and he will have a place here. Vivian and Sancet are very close. Oihan is a player for the future for us, but there is no need to hurry. He’s coming back from a serious injury and needs consistent minutes and to improve physically. We are working a lot with him because we have a lot of confidence in what he’s going to give us. Both will play with Bilbao Athletic but will train with the first team and be available to us.”
Athletic will kick off the La Liga season in just two weeks when they welcome Barcelona to San Mamés. Until then, the Lions have three more friendlies to finish preparing for what will be a truly competitive campaign. Athletic hope to challenge for a place in Europe and so far have shown the quality to do so this year.