Iñigo Martinez “There Are No Excuses”
Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Valencia was a low point for Athletic. The Basques had won all three games at home going into the match and had yet to concede a goal at San Mamés before falling to Los Che. When speaking to reporters after the defeat, Iñigo Martinez pointed out that the team made a lot of mistakes and stated that they will work to address those errors before facing Celta Vigo.
“I think the team suffered a lot, especially in the first half. We were late to balls when pressing and they came out with more energy. They have great players and it shows. In the second half we went out to level the score and win the game. We came out more physical, but didn’t have a clear chance except for the close one from Williams. Now it’s time to look at where we’ve failed and correct those issues for the next game.”
Athletic’s success has been built on defense and intense pressure since Gaizka Garitano took over as manager back in December. However, Valencia didn’t have any problems going forward. “They got through our pressure easy”, Martinez admitted. “We knew clearly what we had to do but we’ve seen that Valencia play very well and they got the goal. Their quality was seen.”
The match against Valencia was the third game in six days for Athletic and it was evident that many of the players were fatigued. When asked about the lack of rest Martinez refused to let it be an excuse for the poor performance. The defender believes that Valencia simply played better and Athletic must learn from the defeat.
“I think we are fine physically. We had a good preseason and we are here to compete in these games even if they are close together. That isn’t an excuse. In reality, there are no excuses. They were better than us and we must admit that. We tried with a lot of crosses but it didn’t lead to anything. Now it’s time to get up from this and look to the next game. It will be different.”
There was controversy at San Mamés. Valencia’s goal appeared to come after a pass was received offsides but VAR reviewed the play and confirmed the goal. After the match, more angles of the play showed that the player was in an offside position. “If they saw that he was onside then that’s what it is and we won’t blame VAR either”, Martinez quickly answered when asked about it. “This wasn’t our best game and we have to admit that. We will not always be at our best and everyone has bad games.”
Following the team’s first loss of the season, Athletic will now prepare to travel to Celta Vigo in what will be the final game before the international break. The Zurigorri have yet to win a game on the road this season and taking all three points next weekend will go a long way towards putting the team in a good place before the break.