Gaizka Garitano “Winning And Defending Well Builds Confidence”
Athletic continued their electric start to the season on Sunday, beating Alavés 2-0 at San Mamés to move to the top of the La Liga table. The team has been in terrific form since Gaizka Garitano took over as manager and the Mister has taken Athletic to another level this year. After the match, Garitano praised the patience of his players as well as their security to not lose the ball in dangerous positions.
“The most important thing is that we were patient, especially at the beginning, because we faced an opponent that we couldn’t take necessary risks against. We had a lot of possession, but without depth. We had to work the ball around with long sequences of passes knowing that they were spending their energy. We had to be sure not to lose the ball or suffer from set-pieces. We knew how to be patient.”
The defensive-minded style of Athletic has brought great results and that won’t be changing. Garitano explained that the team always focuses on defending first and believes that goals will follow. The Lions have been able to build on the success of last season and it’s showing.
“We know our way of playing very well and the base of the team is always the same. Winning and defending well builds confidence and we did things well after scoring the first goal. Above all, we’ve defended well and then attacked well. We didn’t concede any great scoring chances. The key to defending well is continuity and we have continued what we were doing last year when it was difficult for teams to create chances against us. I think we’ve have taken a step further in attack.”
Although Athletic have been able to score enough goals to get good results, Garitano wants to see more players contributing in attack. The Mister also praised Ibai Gómez who made his first start of the season and played very well against his former club.
“We have a few players contributing goals…Iker, Raúl, Williams, and Aduriz, although he isn’t going to score 20 goals because he isn’t playing much. Besides them we have to have other players scoring like the midfielders and wingers. It’s a facet that we have to improve. Ibai started the season injured and that has slowed him down a bit. I’m delighted with his performance and with him because he’s working in a phenomenal way.”
With the Basque Derby out of the way, Athletic will immediately shift their focus to Wednesday’s trip to Leganés. When asked about how he will rotate the lineup, Garitano refused to give any hints and explained that he will analyze how each player recovers after such a demanding match.
“Let’s wait and see, we won’t be giving any clues. First, we have to see how the players recover like Iker, for example, because he finished the game very tired. We are a very physical and intense team so some changes will have to be made. I trust everyone. Those who aren’t playing have great quality and I’m not afraid to put anyone on the field.”
Leganés have earned just one point this season but Garitano doesn’t expect an easy match on Wednesday. Playing three games in six days is always a big challenge and the manger wants to get the decisions right.
“We will have a complicated game in Leganés. We are competing for nine points in six days. It’s important to have a cool head and continue like this. We all know that in one day you can go from being the best to being the worst. Six days doesn’t give a lot of balance.”
In closing, Garitano put the focus on the fans who created a sublime atmosphere at San Mamés on Sunday. “I’m delighted that the fans are enjoying this team”, said Garitano. “It makes me happy to see fans looking forward to every game, but those of us on the inside, who have been in this business for a while, know how it goes. Today we can enjoy it a little and tomorrow we have to prepare for the game against Leganés.” Athletic will continue to take the season one game at a time and know that they have to keep improving.