Gaizka Garitano “The Obligation Is To Win Because We Are Better”
The first round of the Copa del Rey isn’t supposed to be much of a threat for the Primera clubs. Drawn against opponents from the lower levels of Spanish football, the teams from the first division are expected to advance but there are always surprises. Two years ago Athletic were embarrassingly eliminated by Formentera and manager Gaizka Garitano has no intention of letting something like that happen again.
“The obligation is to win because we are better and are in a superior category,” Garitano told reporters on Monday. “We have seen many Intercity matches. We know their players and advancing is an obligation because we are better. We must be careful and give our maximum. Two years ago we lost to Formentera over two legs. This is one game and you have to be very careful.”
Having just played a Basque Derby against Eibar on Saturday, Garitano confirmed that there will be changes to the lineup. However, the manager also stated that he will start the strongest possible team because Athletic have to take the match seriously.
“We will make changes because we played a game two days ago. We would make changes even if we were rested. The team will be recognizable and there will be players who usually play because the next game is Sunday and there will be days to rest. There’s only 90 minutes so we can’t make mistakes. Any team can beat you in one match and we will face it with the utmost seriousness. I don’t take anything for granted. We will put the best possible team on the field because we have the obligation to win and advance.”
Garitano went on to highlight the importance of the Copa del Rey in Athletic’s history. The Lions have won the title 23 times, second only to Barcelona, and are confident that they can challenge for the trophy once again this season.
“This is a very important competition for us. Historically we have given it importance and we must continue to do so. It’s a single game and we can’t fail or have a bad day. I like this format because the games are life or death. Surely there will be more surprises because it gives more possibilities to the smaller teams from the lower levels. Every year there are surprises and that’s why we have to be an example of how to face the game. On that principle we can’t fall asleep.”
Despite believing that Athletic are clearly the better team, Garitano has respect for Tuesday’s opponent and the threat they pose. “Intercity are a professional team that trains well,” said the manager. “They have good players who have competed at higher levels.” The Basques are confident that they can make a deep run in the Copa del Rey this season and it all starts with this first match against Intercity.