Mikel Vesga “I’m Happy For The Minutes And For Helping The Team”
Mikel Vesga was a surprise inclusion to the lineup on Sunday as Athletic picked up a vital point in a draw against Real Madrid. Although the midfield has only seen limited minutes this season, Vesga played well at the Santiago Bernabéu as he partnered Dani García in front of the defense.
“We have to be ready at any time and for whatever the Mister says,” Vesga told reporters after the game when asked about starting. “We played a great game even though there were moments of suffering. We’re very happy. Getting a point at the Bernabéu is complicated and the team made a great effort. It’s a tremendous joy.
The 26-year-old went on to say that Athletic had to make adjustments after the break which brought a better rhythm. Athletic were much better in the second half but were still unable to get the winning goal.
“We lacked a bit of composure and tranquility in the first half or else we would have done more damage. In the second half we did an incredible job and in the end we had a couple of chances to score. It’s a pity that the linesman flagged Kodro’s goal. It would have put us ahead. The extra six minutes seemed excessive but it almost benefited us because of the chances that Lekue and Villalibre had at the end.”
Gaizka Garitano fielded three center-backs against Real Madrid which helped deal with attacks and add physicality to the midfield. “”We have very clear idea although it’s true that we aren’t used to the system,” Vesga admitted. “We prepared for it throughout the week. Last year I played with three center-backs at Leganés and it benefitted me.”
The manager explained after the game that he doesn’t expect to use three center-backs on a regular basis, though it is a good option to have ready. Meanwhile, Vesga isn’t sure that his performance will bring more minutes but he’s determined to keep fighting for his place.
“I was calm. I knew that at any moment I could be in the team. I don’t know if I’ve earned more minutes or not. I will continue as before by training, supporting my teammates, and competing with those in my position for opportunities. I’m happy with the minutes and for helping the team.”
Vesga isn’t sure if he will have more chances moving forward but is determined to fight for is place in the team. In addition, the midfielder says Athletic are determined to stay in the race for Europe.
“We are going little by little. We’re doing things well and must continue like this. The league is very tight and there are many good teams. If we do well we’ll be fighting for the top places, we will fight to be in Europe. There is no better scenario to end the year than getting something here. We leave with a very good taste in our mouths. The team deserved a result like this. I’m happy for the team after a good year.”
Garitano admitted after the game that he is unlikely to use the three center-back formation on a regular basis. That being said, Mikel Vesga could still earn more minutes if he continues to perform well when called upon. Athletic will take the field again on 3 January as the Zurigorri travel to the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán to face Sevilla.