Gaizka Garitano “The Most Important Thing Is To Win And Advance”
Athletic will travel to Estadio Martínez Valero on Wednesday with hopes of defeating Elche and advancing to the next round of the Copa del Rey. So far, the Basques have recorded wins over Intercity and Sestao River but know that Elche will be a much stronger opponent. Gaizka Garitano isn’t taking anything for granted.
“Each round the opponent you face is more difficult,” the manager said during Tuesday’s press conference. “Elche are having a good season and will be strong. They are a team that we know well. They try to play the ball well and we have the utmost respect for them as an opponent. All cup matches are very close so we will have to play a good game. We want to approach the game with the same intensity and motivation as the league.”
Fortunately, Athletic have already played one game at Estadio Martínez Valero this season. The cup match against Intercity was moved to Alicante and Garitano says that the team was comfortable on the Elche field.
“We played at their field recently and we hope that things are fine after the storm. It’s one of the largest fields in Spain by dimensions and is also comfortable. It’s not going to be an excuse. It’s a very good ground and there are no complaints. Our desire and focus is on advancing.”
Garitano recognizes that Athletic haven’t faced difficult opposition so far in the cup, but says Elche will be a test. In the end, being a Primera team demands that the Lions win and book their place in the next round.
“The games so far have been against teams in lower levels, but they have played with confidence. Of course, this game will be more challenging. For us the most important thing is to win and advance. The goals scored in the previous rounds are not so significant because they were against Tercera opponents. We are a higher-level team and this competition makes us excited. We have an opportunity to continue progressing.”
Having just played an intense match against Celta Vigo on Sunday, Garitano has admitted that there will be rotations in the team. Regardless of who takes the field, the Mister has full confidence in every single player.
“When you play every three days there are always players with blows or discomfort. I want to see today’s training session to access the little doubts that we may have. We play again in the league three days later, but we want to give our full attention to this match. There is a group of eight or nine who play regularly and others have rotated in the team. They have all responded well and I have total confidence in everyone.”
In closing, Garitano was asked about the possibility of Aritz Aduriz making a return to the field. It depends on how he is doing, how we see him, and what the doctors say,” the manager responded. “Every day he’s getting better and has less discomfort. He will return when he is ready and we will see him in the best shape.” Aduriz has spent the past few months recovering from a hip injury but seems likely to miss the Elche match.