Gaizka Garitano “The Pity Is That We Didn’t Score More Goals”
Athletic thoroughly dominated Granada in Wednesday night’s Copa del Rey semifinal first leg at San Mamés. The Lions controlled the game from start to finish, but only managed to win 1-0 due to two additional goals being called back. While the lead will be important going into the second leg, the team feels as though the exceptional performance should have led to a much bigger victory.
“We played well, at a high pace, and we controlled the game,” said Gaizka Garitano after the match. “The pity is that we didn’t score more, that we weren’t able to get that second goal. We had it, but it was taken away and no one protested the decision. It was a very good game and in the second half we created more chances. It was important to defend well with a second leg coming.”
Garitano admitted that the players weren’t satisfied with the final result, though keeping a clean sheet could play a key role in the return leg. There will be work left to do at Nuevo Estadio de Los Cármenes.
“We don’t have good feelings in the locker room, nobody is happy. We should have scored more goals. It was difficult to finish chances but when you do and they are taken away it leaves you more angry. It’s true that 1-0 is a good result, but if we had lost 1-0 we would feel that we could turn the tie around in the second leg. Even winning 2-0 there would still be a match left to play. The tie is even. In two or three days we will see that this result is good.”
The manager surprised fans with the decision to start Unai Simón over Iago Herrerín who has functioned as the Cup keeper. “These are decisions that a coach must make,” he explained. “We have two great goalkeepers and I chose to start Unai because he has made big saves and has played more minutes.”
Garitano praised the incredible performance of Iñaki Williams, who assisted the lone goal and created several other opportunities. Meanwhile, Dani García will miss the second leg due to suspension.
“We need Williams at a high level and every day he is getting better. He had a month in which he wasn’t well and now he’s the player we need again. The booking was fair for Dani’s challenge, but there have been others who weren’t given a card and probably deserved one. Dani will miss the next game, but there will be another in his place. The entire squad must always be ready to play.”
In closing, Garitano also thanked the Athletic fans for creating a tremendous atmosphere at the Cathedral yet again. The Basques have put their hope in the Cup, but must turn their attention back to the La Liga campaign for now.
“There is always that communion with the team and fans at San Mamés. The fans give us wings and today, as always in these big games, they were great. We have bet on the Cup which is a beautiful competition, but in the league we are hurting because we haven’t won in a while. Now Osasuna comes to us which will be a vital match.”
Athletic will travel to Nuevo Estadio de Los Cármenes for the second leg on 5 March with hopes of advancing to the final. In the meantime, the Zurigorri will begin preparing for Sunday’s Basque Derby against Osasuna which will also take place at San Mamés.