Raúl García “It Will Be A Special Game, But It’s Always Nice To Win”
Raúl García will make his return to Osasuna this weekend as Athletic travel to El Sadar for the third Basque Derby of the season. The Derby is always special but this one will have added drama because Athletic have yet to win on the road this season and Osasuna have gone a record 31 straight games at home without a loss. As García shared in Thursday’s press conference, Sunday’s match will be very difficult.
“It’s a return to what was my home, a place where I lived many things and especially positive things. I have always said that the last year I was there was very special. It will be a special game for us. Maybe you live it differently from other matches because there is a rivalry, but it’s always nice to win. We know that it will be a complicated game, they are very clear about the way they play.”
The 33-year-old went on to admit that he still watches as many Osasuna matches as he can and that the club’s recent success has been impressive. García was quick to praise Osasuna for their style of play which Athletic will have to overcome to get a positive result at El Sadar.
“I have seen a lot of their games because I have tried to follow their matches whenever I can. They do a lot of things well with a defined style of play and not just this year. They’ve been playing a particular way for a long time and with confidence the results have followed. I think we will face a good team because what has happened to them, their success, is no accident.”
Despite the fact that Athletic have yet to win on the road this season, García believes that the team has played well in recent games. The midfielder went as far to say that the Basques have deserved more from a few trips away from San Mamés and hopes they can finally end the run this weekend.
“Obviously, we want to take the step we’ve been talking about which is being able to get more points away from home and what better place to do it than in a difficult field like El Sadar. We were fine in Villarreal, but I think we were also good in the first half against Atlético and we want to get more away from home. We are calm and have to have confidence. We have played games away from home where we deserved more.”
Athletic have spent the past two weeks preparing for Sunday’s match but Iker Muniain’s absence will be another obstacle to overcome. “We have a group that we trust,” García answered when asked about other players having to step up. “The only thing we can hope for is that Iker recovers as soon as possible like the rest of the injured players that we have. We fully trust every player in the squad.”
Having been raised at the Osasuna academy, García always wants the best for the club. He was excited to see Osasuna earn promotion back to the Primera but made it clear that he’s only focused on winning with Athletic at El Sadar.
“I wanted Osasuna to go up because it’s the team of my land where I spent many years. The joys of Osasuna are my joys, but now it’s my turn to think about Athletic and take the game forward. It’s a bit anecdotal to talk about me celebrating a goal or not, but it’s a gesture of respect. Whenever a club and environment have brought me positive things I try to be grateful and respectful.”
In closing, García was asked about the Copa del Rey draw against Intercity and was clearly excited about the upcoming fixture. “I love this type of qualifier where you get to go to a place you have never played before. You have to face it with the same respect as any other team. We already felt the disappointment of being eliminated by Formentera and we have to learn from that. We want to show that we can go far and to do that we must take every game seriously.”
Athletic currently sit 6th in the La Liga table and could climb even higher with a win at El Sadar. However, with the league being so competitive this year a draw or los would see the Zurigorri fall several spots. Every single point is vital and Athletic are determined to put an end to Osasuna’s streak at El Sadar return to Bilbao with a victory.