Gaizka Garitano “I Have Confidence In Athletic And San Mamés”
The summer has finally come to an end and Athletic will open their season on Friday night against Barcelona. Manager Gaizka Garitano addressed the media on Thursday and confirmed that Iñigo Martinez, Ibai Gómez, and Iñigo Córdoba will all be unavailable due to injuries. The Mister hopes to have the trio back next week, but in the meantime has full confidence in other players to fill their place.
“We’ve come from a preseason without any injuries and everyone was able to complete the sessions. There were many sessions. The last friendlies have brought several injuries and some haven’t been able to recover, so they will be unavailable but we have players that we trust to take their place. We expect the three players to recover next week, if not everyone. We’re looking forward to tomorrow’s game. They’re all close. This week wasn’t possible but I hope some are available next week, maybe everyone.”
Many see this as the perfect time for Athletic to face Barcelona. Not only will the Lions be playing at home, but Barcelona will be trying to find a rhythm with their new players in their first game of the season. When asked about the situation Garitano explained that Barcelona are always a difficult opponent but that the Lions are ready to fight for all three points.
“You never know. They are very good and have had a good preseason. They already had a good team but their reinforcements have made them a better team. We expect a strong Barcelona and we hope to be at our best to be able to win. Barcelona is always a great team. They’ve won the last two leagues and have played against the best teams in Europe. They’ve also got momentum because their new signings have adapted fast. I’m more concerned about us. We played a very good game against them last season and we have to do the same or even better in order to win. That’s the goal. We are prepared and I think we are ready. We have put a game plan in place and we’re well prepared.”
Barcelona will be without star Lionel Messi, though Garitano doesn’t think too much of it. With or without, the Catalans will still be a very strong opponent. The Mister prefers to focus on what Athletic have to do to win, not who is on the field for the other team.
“They won’t have Messi who gives them a lot but also takes away from others. He’s their best player, but they have won with defensive organization and a high press. I’m always optimistic. We always have confidence in our capabilities no matter who we play against and we will try to have a good performance.”
Europe may be the ultimate goal this season but Garitano still won’t set any objectives. La Liga is more competitive than ever before and the Basques will take the season one game at a time. Opening the season at San Mamés will be an added bonus and Athletic want to take full advantage of the atmosphere at the Cathedral.
“We don’t know what will happen. Before the season starts we all think we’re strong. We have a lot of optimism and then the results put you in your place. The big three or four are always close to 100 points but we all start with zero. I always have optimism. I have confidence in Athletic and San Mamés. That’s what I trust in. We always have a great atmosphere at San Mamés. The fans push us and support us. Last year we already had a great harmony with the fans and the team which helps a lot. With the support of the fans at San Mamés, it’s as if we are playing with an extra player. We’ve been a strong team at home and hope that it gives us the first victory of the season.”
In closing, Garitano was once again asked who will be the starting goalkeeper with Iago Herrerin and Unai Simon having fought for the role all summer. “We trust both goalkeepers, either will do” Garitano answered. “Tomorrow we’ll see. Whoever starts will do well.” Opening the season against Barcelona is never easy, but Athletic Club are determined to get a positive result and start the year with an exciting result at San Mamés.