Unai Simón “My Job Is To Help The Team And Leave Without Conceding”
Unai Simón was the hero for Athletic in Sunday’s draw with Real Madrid. The goalkeeper made eight extraordinary saves to keep a clean sheet and secure an important point for the Basques. Athletic played a great game overall, but it was Simón’s brilliance that made all the difference.
“It was a very hard-earned point with a bit of luck from the posts, but we did a great job and deserved the draw to get a point,” Simón told Movistar after the match. “We knew they were a very strong team with Benzema in the box for crosses. We reinforced ourselves against a rival like Madrid and it was a balanced match.”
When asked about his spectacular performance the goalkeeper was humble as ever and didn’t want to take the spotlight. “In the end my job is the same as always, to help the team and try to leave without conceding.” The 22-year-old has been instrument for Athletic all season.
Simón also didn’t want to get into a discussion about the officiating despite Thibaut Courtois claiming that the referee allowed Athletic to be too physical. “Not all referees are the same,” said Simón. “This one usually lets you play a lot. It suits us because we want matches with rhythm. Football is a constant sport. We played a great game, not because of the referee, but because of our performance.”
Looking ahead, Simón recognizes that Athletic have to get more points in games outside of San Mamés. “We know that we are doing things well at home and that we have to improve things on the road, but little by little we have been finding the points and fluidity to our game. This is the path for 2020.” Athletic will have the chance to build on Sunday’s result when they travel to Sevilla on 3 January.
Unai Núñez also played a key role in the draw against Real Madrid. The defender was brought back in the starting lineup and operated in the middle of the three center-backs. “It’s very difficult to get a point here so this result is gold,” the 22-year-old admitted. “We have all worked hard and we must continue along this line. Every time I go out I show that I’m at a good level.”
Sunday’s draw in Madrid lifted Athletic back into a tie with Valencia for 7th place in the La Liga table. The Lions will now go into the holiday break fully in the battle for Europe but will face another significant challenge in two weeks when they visit Sevilla with the hope of bringing all three points back to home Bilbao.