Gaizka Garitano “We Need To Win And Break Our Bad Streak In The League”
Athletic are in the midst of playing three consecutive Basque Derbies and will host Osasuna at San Mamés on Sunday. The Lions fell 2-1 to Real Sociedad last weekend which extended the team’s winless streak to eight games, but Gaizka Garitano’s side are determined to put an end to the poor run. Although Athletic have had a busy schedule over the past month Garitano made it clear in Saturday’s press conference that the team is making no excuses.
“We are accumulating fatigue. We’ve had a very hard month where we played eight games, a game every three days, some with extra time and penalties. In the end you have to get used to it and we will try to put together a competitive team to win tomorrow because it’s a vital game. We need to win and break our bad streak in the league.”
Garitano admitted that going so long without winning has affected the team. Confidence is an important part of football and the manager says Athletic must get a victory to get back on track.
“The bad streak weighs on you. We’ve played well and have good feelings, but we don’t live off of sensations. We live to win. We’ve been close to winning and we’ve compensated for it with very good Cup matches, but in the end we are anchored at 31 points and we have to move up.”
Athletic’s intense schedule has played a role in the string of disappointing results, though it hasn’t been the only factor. For now, the Basques will turn their attention away from the Copa del Rey semifinals with the hope of securing all three points against Osasuna.
“We have not been at full strength for a while. Injuries, suspensions, and fatigue have all taken their toll in the league, but that doesn’t serve as an excuse. We’ve played a lot of games and now we have to play again for the third time this week and we have to win. The conviction is that this is a very important match for us. Right now we are focusing on the league. We can forget about the Cup for the next two or three weeks because we will be playing league games and they are all important.”
Osasuna’s recent form hasn’t been much better. The Navarrese outfit have just one win in their last eight league fixtures and have fallen into the bottom half of the table. Sunday’s meeting with be crucial for both teams.
“It’s clear that the Cup has affected our league form in recent weeks. We only live to win and we have to win, especially when we haven’t done it in a long time. We need to get to 34 points to get some fresh air in the table. Osasuna also comes in need of points because their results haven’t been good lately either. We’re both teams in need of winning.”
Unfortunately, Athletic will be without Iker Muniain and Dani García, who are suspended, as well as the injured Unai López. As always, Garitano says others are ready to step up in their place.
“It’s obvious that they are two key players who always play, but I always trust everyone. There are aways casualties during the season and you can’t complain. It’s not one week then it’s another and you need every player. Managers have to be prepared to put the team together when some are missing. There are no excuses.”
Due to the absences, Garitano has called up starlets Oihan Sancet and Unai Vencedor. Both could see the field against Osasuna and the Mister has full confidence that they are ready to help the team.
“We had the plan for Vencedor and Sancet to be in the team. They are two players who usually train with us and Oihan has already played with us this season. I also know Unai well. We will gradually get these players into the team as we have done in other cases to give young players opportunities. We are laying the base for the next few years.”
Athletic currently trail the top six by seven points and could make up important ground with a win over Osasuna. It won’t be an easy game, these matches never are, but the Zurigorri are eager to break the winless streak and playing in front of the fans at San Mamés will be a major factor in the outcome of Sunday’s Basque Derby.