Gaizka Garitano “Hopefully We Can Both Meet Again In The Cup Final”
Athletic have made the Copa del Rey the team’s top priority and it showed in Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Real Sociedad. Gaizka Garitano rested several key players to start the match and the result was certainly disappointing. The defeat saw the Lions fall six points off of the top six, making the Cup the best chance for Athletic to qualify for Europe.
“Taking into account the scenario and the situation, we have played a good game,” Garitano said after the match. “I think we were in the game until the last moment and, in the end, their quality was imposed. The game plan was going well with the three changes that we made in the second half. I don’t like losing anything and we played to win. It was difficult to hold La Real. By wanting the game it cost us and we ended up losing.”
Garitano admitted that his side struggled in attack, though it was the La Real forwards who decided the match. Despite the loss, Athletic still hold the tiebreaker if needed at the end of the season.
“I think we were blunt. Real have a lot of quality in attack and it’s difficult to hold them for 90 minutes. As soon as you leave them a bit of a hole and you have no help, they kill you. We were better when we attacked, but they marked us well. It was a very costly defeat.”
Athletic and Real Sociedad both won the Derby at home this season, though there could be a third fixture if the two advance to the Copa del Rey final. That match would take place in Sevilla and would be special, though Garitano isn’t looking past Granada.
“Hopefully we can both meet again in the Cup final. Right now we have to recover. We have a difficult tie because we also haven’t won in the league in a long time. In the Cup we have been very good and have had joy, but that makes us tired. It has cost us points in the league and players. Yuri and Raúl García are doubts for Wednesday’s game.”
Apart from the defeat, there was also drama at the end of the match when Iker Muniain made a late challenge on Mikel Oyarzabal and was shown a straight red card. “Iker went in to take the ball and was late,” said Garitano. “He wasn’t trying to hurt anyone, that is certain, but the red card was fair.” Muniain should be available for Wednesday’s Cup match, though he would miss out if the Competition Committee choose to suspend him for more than three matches.