Raúl García “It’s Important To Do What We Know”
Raúl García has arguably been Athletic’s most important player this season and leads the team with four goals through the opening nine matches. On Saturday the midfielder will make his return to Madrid where he spent several seasons with Atlético Madrid before making the switch to San Mamés. During Wednesday’s press conference, García shared that this won’t be an easy game and that the Basques must trust their style of football to get a positive result.
“Atlético are a team that, because of the changes, haven’t had the best start although we still see where they are”, García began. “It’s a complicated game. It will require a lot from us and we go with the clear idea of playing with our strengths. These are usually close games so it’s important to do what we know. The team is confident and we have to take a step forward.”
Because of his relationships with current Atlético players, García explained that he still watches the Colchoneros whenever he gets the chance. It hasn’t been the best start for Atlético but the midfielder didn’t think it was his place to analyze the state of the club right now.
“I like to watch their games on television because I have friends there, but judging or analyzing the team isn’t something appropriate to do. The games against Atlético are special, so are the games against Osasuna, but I like to go to Madrid. I have many memories from both clubs, but I want to win against both of them. I want to win to be happy.”
Saturday’s trip to Madrid comes at a difficult time with Athletic having gone four straight games without a victory. Regardless, García firmly stated that you can’t choose when you face a specific opponent so the team must be ready to put in a good performance on the road.
“You play where you play. You can’t choose the moment or opponent. We have to go there with the mindset of winning and to get the sensations that we are looking for. You have to think positive. Football always has streaks and now we have to end this one. The important thing is to know how to face the moments of each game. In our last game away from home, against Celta, we didn’t do what we should. We have to find solutions. You have to be focused to get better results away from home. We have to take that step forward.”
Athletic’s poor form away from home has been an issue all season but García isn’t paying much attention to the critics. The midfielder stated that the team simply has to focus on improving certain areas because it’s the same game whether at San Mamés or another stadium.
“When things don’t go as you want you have to turn it around. When you go away from home and don’t do well you can’t lower your head. The match on the road are the same as at home so we have to take a step forward. I try not to read anything because as good as you may be there will always be things that can be improved. I think we did a lot to take the game forward against Valladolid, just as we did against Valencia. We couldn’t get more goals but we did things well. What needs to be done is to improve.”
Despite being Athletic’s leading scorer so far this season, García admitted that he isn’t really worried about the goals. The 33-year-old is far more concerned with the overall performance of the team and getting good results. Above all else, García is willing to do whatever is needed to help the team.
“I’m only worried about what I can change. I have been adapting to what I’m asked to do for 15 years because no player is above the team. Everyone has their only way of playing and you have to think about the group. I’m not focused so much on goals. I focus on having an important role in attack and defense. I have to think about the group and I don’t care where they put me. I’ve always said I like playing inside, but there are others who aren’t even playing. Whether it’s out wide on centrally, it’s about contribution. I’m at the service of the team.”
In closing, García was asked about the implementation of VAR in La Liga over the past two years. “I talk a lot with the referees, always with respect”, he began. “They have never sent me off. If I am it will be for something. VAR does it’s job and is positive. It’s a tool that helps, but I’m in favor of speeding things up.” Officiating will be an important aspect in this weekend’s match with Athletic and Atlético both very physical teams. Raúl García’s always enjoys returning to Madrid, but the most important thing is going back to Bilbao with all three points.