Dani García “What Better Way To Add Points Away From Home Than By Breaking Osasuna’s Streak”
Athletic may be nearly unbeatable at San Mamés, but the Lions have struggled to win games on the road. In six matches away from home Athletic have managed four draws and two defeats, but hope to change that this weekend when they travel to El Sadar. The only problem is that Osasuna have gone 31 straight games without losing at home.
“Winning away from home is very complicated but you have to break the barrier,” Dani García told Iñaki Ugalde in an interview with Mundo Deportivo. “With more points on the road we would have managed to qualify for Europe last year. We have to improve and keep the same intensity that we have at San Mamés.”
Osasuna’s unbeaten streak is a record for the club, surpassing the previous mark of 30 straight games without a loss at home. That run was ended in 1959 by none other than Athletic. “It’s very important to start adding points away from home, which is what we need, and what better way than to break Osasuna’s streak,” said García. “There are many matches left and if we continue along this line we will finish high.”
Traditionally, 60 points has been the mark to qualify for the Champions League but things are much different this season. “With there being so much equality in the league I don’t know how the final calculations will go. We are five points from the top, but I don’t know how many points will be needed in the end to qualify for Europe.”
García has played a major role in the team since joining the club last summer, but there are two young players who are already viewed as the future of the Athletic midfield. Unai Vencedor plays a similar position to García who believes that he has the potential to become a very good footballer.
“Unai very good at getting out of moments of pressure, he’s a player with a big future. When you reach the Primera you have to give the highest level. I don’t know what level he will give, but with Bilbao Athletic he’s been at a great level. He has a great touch on set pieces and a lot of technique. In the end we will see how far he goes.”
Oihan Sancet may very well be the most promising product to come through Lezama in recent memory. While it’s natural for a young player to want more minutes, García says that fans must be patient with the starlet.
“I tell Oihan the bad things because he already knows the good things. He’s a player who can leave a mark on his time at Athletic, but we had to realize that he must improve some things. When you’re aware of that, you can take a major leap. We have to be calm because there are many cases of young players who seem to be going far and but stay where they are. Everyone wants to start playing and contributing, but you have to be calm and patient.”
Both Vencedor and Sancet could be fully promoted to the first team next season and would then share the field with García. “We would play well together,” answered the 29-year-old when asked about the possibility. “Unai has more quality than me, but I am much better than him defensively. If someone has to change the way they play he would be better than me in a more advanced role. Oihan can play in a double pivot or as a mediapunta.”
While Sancet has already made his first team debut, Vencedor is still waiting for that opportunity. The midfielders have been exceptional with Bilbao Athletic this season and it seems like only a matter of time before they are sharing they field at San Mamés. In the meantime, Dani García will continue to be the heart of the Athletic midfield while also helping prepare the next generation.