Raúl García “The Team Has Made Improvements To Get Better Results”
Athletic may have one eye on the Copa del Rey final, but the Lions must turn their full attention to Sunday’s Basque Derby. With Osasuna visiting San Mamés the Zurigorri will have an opportunity to put an end to their eight-game winless streak in La Liga and pick up an important three points. The past two months haven’t yielded good results in league play, but Raúl García isn’t concerned about the performances.
“The team has made improvements to get better results. I think that almost every home game the team has shown that we want to win, that we can create chances, but the results have been what they have been. I have good feelings because the team has done things well to win games. The only thing I would change are the results. I don’t have that feeling that we aren’t winning because we aren’t playing well, it’s totally different. Other times I’ve been worried, but not right now. We are playing well.”
García was raised at Osasuna and still has a lot of love for his boyhood club. During Friday’s press conference he pointed out that beating Osasuna will be very difficult and that Athletic must be at their very best.
“Osasuna are a very good team. I try to watch them whenever I can because it’s special for me and I like the club a lot. They were just promoted but it feels like they have been in the Primera for longer and, obviously, if we aren’t at our best we won’t win. We have to play well because they are a difficult team to overcome. Fatigue is not excuse. We have played a lot of game and have been tired, but we are prepared for every game.”
Turning his attention to the Cup semifinals, García says that everyone should enjoy the process of competing in the tournament. Most players have never been in this position and it’s important to stop and take it all in.
“I understand that there is nervousness, but when you have been in this for so long you realize that these moments are important because you don’t see them often. Reaching a Cup semifinal is a beautiful opportunity and there are probably many players on all four teams who have never been in this position before. You have to enjoy it.”
There are still 90 minutes left to play in Granada, but García believes that the 1-0 win at San Mamés was a good result. Keeping a clean sheet could prove vital to Athletic advancing to the final.
“We are in the Cup semifinals and we have to be optimistic. It will be a difficult second leg against Granda, but I encourage everyone to enjoy this occasion. Winning 1-0 in the first leg is a very good result. The most important thing is that we are always in the game and that will give us good results.”
Unlike many players in the team, Raúl García has has been in this position many times before. He acknowledged that he tries to use his experience to help others and keep everyone grounded during big matches.
“I always assume my responsibility in the important matches and in the day to day. I like to work hard and be organized. I don’t feel a difference playing a semifinal or a final. You can see the pressure from the outside, but I try to make every feel that it’s just one more game and that if we do things right there will be a prize.”
Before ending the press conference, the 33-year-old took a moment to reflect on the incredible atmosphere at San Mamés during the last two Cup matches. “I really appreciate the support of the fans,” he said. “Everyone feels part of this team and we need that momentum. Seeing the feeling that our fans give us makes me give much more.” A similar atmosphere in Sunday’s Basque Derby could be the key to a big win at the Cathedral.