Gaizka Garitano “We Weren’t The Athletic Of Other Games, But We Fought Until The End”
Athletic suffered their worst defeat of the season on Sunday, falling 3-2 to Real Betis at the Benito Villamarín. After surrendering three goals in the opening 20 minutes the Lions were able to get back into the game but failed to score an equalizer. After the match Gaizka Garitano spoke to reporters and admitted that Athletic were unable to match the intensity of their hosts.
“The first three times they had chances they scored three goals. We came out less intense and didn’t adjust to the pressure. We weren’t the Athletic of other games, but we ended up alive and fought until the end. Their quick transitions hurt us. We didn’t do well with the pressure and that’s where the goals came from because they have top level players. Trying to overcome 3-0 isn’t easy and the first 25 minutes complicated things.”
Joaquin scored all three goals for Betis and in the process became the oldest player to score a hat trick in La Liga. “We knew that their danger came from the left wing and that’s where the goals came from” Garitano explained. “Joaquin is a very good player. We didn’t do what we had prepared. if you don’t do everything perfectly against Betis you will pay.”
Athletic were much better in the second half and had opportunities to steal a point. “When you are in a situation like this you have to understand the team,” said Garitano. “You have to do the things that brought you here, which in our case was the unity of the group. We had more defensive security and balance in the second half. We were close but we couldn’t complete the comeback.”
Garitano made one change immediately after halftime by bringing on Unai Núñez for Iñigo Córdoba. When asked about the substitution, the manger explained that the goal was to give the team more balance while also allowing Yuri Berchiche and Ander Capa more freedom to attack.
“The team had no balance. Many times adding another striker doesn’t make you attack better, so we wanted to build from defensive security. When you play with a mismatched system there is a lot of space. We wanted to throw Capa and Yuri forward, who played as wingers, to give width and try to attack. We finished the second half with dignity, which is Athletic, without giving up not he game.”
Athletic’s five-game unbeaten streak may have come to an end on Sunday but Garitano isn’t panicking. “We lost on a complicated field but we can’t go crazy. We will analyze the game and we have to correct things from those first 25 minutes that we did wrong. The team has been working fine so far.” The Zurigorri will now turn their attention to Saturday’s Basque Derby against Eibar where another important three points will be on the line.