Ibai Gómez “There Is Always Room For Improvement”
Since returning to Athletic back in January Ibai Gómez hasn’t had the consistent minutes that were expected. This season the winger has split time with Iñigo Córdoba, Iker Muniain, and others and has featured in seven games while making just three starts. Despite the lack of chances, Gómez told reporters during Tuesday’s press conference that he feels good and is fighting for his spot in the team.
“I am very well. I usually don’t look my age, but I’m 30 years old and I’m doing well. I’m happy. What age gives you is that experience in both the physical and psychological aspects. Each player trains every day to be in the eleven. I fight for it every day. Let’s see if I have continuity and win the confidence of the Mister because that way I will reach my best level.”
While Gómez knows that he must fight for his minutes, it’s also clear that he wants to play. It’s been difficult to be in and out of the lineup but the 30-year-old is confident that he will earn more opportunities with consistent performances.
“Obviously, in the end you want to play every weekend and fight for your place. It’s not easy to participate from time to time. I work to play every weekend and build that confidence in order to have better numbers. Goals are important, especially for an attacker, but earning more minutes is easier if you play with consistency and fight for it.”
After going five straight games without a win Athletic have quickly turned things around. The Lions were in good form heading into the international break and Gómez is confident that even better results will come.
“Whenever you win you get along much better. The team has played some very good matches lately. We have an opportunity to take a step forward and the team is prepared to get the first victory away from home. We have a lot of confidence and, defensively, we’ve made it hard for teams to create chances against us which has given us a lot of strength. We must continue to take advantage of the chances we have in front of goal.”
Athletic’s recent win over Levante showed the potential of the team. The Basques defended very well and created a plethora of chances going forward. Gómez says the team must build on that performance and continue to improve in different aspects.
“The other day the team played a very good game at home. We have to be that kind of team every weekend, organized defensively and creating chances with crosses and forcing turnovers. We’re getting to be that kind of team and intense pressure is important. There is always room for improvement. To be the team that beat Levante we have to be at one hundred percent all season.”
Athletic have yet to win a game on the road this season and are eager to change that on Sunday. It won’t be easy though as Osasuna have gone 31 straight matches without a loss at home. Gómez acknowledged the difficult and says Athletic must make the most of their chances at El Sadar.
“We are working to be the same team at home and away. We’re taking steps forward and on Sunday we have a good opportunity to prove it. It will be a beautiful, difficult, and hard match. Osasuna are a team with a lot of confidence because they have done very well at home and have the numbers to prove it. It will be a very complicated and even match. We must take advantages of our strengths and exploit their weaknesses.”
While Gómez hasn’t seen the field on a regular basis, the same can’t be said for Iñigo Córdoba. However, Córdoba has been the recipient of many whistles at San Mamés and Gómez was quick to defend his teammate when asked about the situation.
“We are all Athletic…the fans, the players, and the club. What we have to do is all paddle the same way and support the players. Honestly, we all try to leave our soul on the field in every game and Córdoba is an example in that regard. When whistles are directed at one player it hurts that player and it hurts the group. We have always been an example of support and we must continue supporting every player.”
Sunday’s trip to El Sadar will be one of the biggest games of the season to this point. Athletic currently sit 6th in the La Liga and could rise or fall several spots depending on the result against Osasuna. With two weeks to prepare for the match the Zurigorri are confident that they can bring all three points back home to Bilbao.