Gaizka Garitano “We Needed To Win Today And That’s What We Set Out To Do”
Athletic suffered a third straight La Liga loss on Sunday night, the team’s ninth straight game without a victory. Despite being the better side and creating a few chances in the second half the Lions were held scoreless by Osasuna who left San Mamés with a 1-0 win and all three points. It was revenge for the Navarrese side, but utter disappointment for Athletic.
“We started well then lost intensity,” Gaizka Garitano told reporters after the game. “The game was barely played because of stoppages and in the second half we were superior with enough chances to score and win the game. We hit the post twice and two times we had good shots hit at the goalkeeper. It’s happened to us so many times and it’s no coincidence. There was no reward for what we created.”
Garitano admitted that he wasn’t happened with how many fouls were called during the match. However, he refused to discuss the apparent missed handball that could have given Athletic a penalty in the second half.
“It wasn’t a fluid game because they closed down space very well and it was difficult to link play. Iker’s absence was noticeable. Osasuna is a well-organized team but we have to score more of the chances that we create. I don’t usually assess the referees. Maybe we aren’t having much luck, but I worry more about the team.”
The result may have been disappointing, but it was still a memorable night for Unai Vencedor who made his first team debut. “He understands football and plays the number 6 position well,” Garitano said about the 19-year-old. “For not being Unai López or Iker Muniain, he moves the ball very well and it made sense to put him in the team.”
Oihan Sancet also made an appearance, replacing Asier Villalibre at halftime and giving Athletic more control of the game. “Villalibre is injured and he asked for the change at halftime,” shared the manager. “He had pain in his back and couldn’t continue. We made the decision to bring on Sancet because he plays well between the lines. He will continue to improve.”
Athletic’s poor run in La Liga has seen the team fall to 10th in the table and seven points off the top seven. For the first time in over a month the Zurigorri will now have an entire week to prepare for the next game and Garitano says the squad is eager to finally record another victory.
“Every defeat hurts us, not just when it’s a Derby, because we want to win. We’ve gone many games without winning. It’s my responsibility. The run in the Cup has unquestionably affected us a lot in the league. We needed to win and today that’s what we set out to do. Sometimes we have lacked freshness, but we created chances and leave with nothing.”
With the second leg of the Copa del Rey semifinal not taking place until 5 March, Athletic can now turn their full attention to the league campaign for two weeks. “We have to think about arriving at the next Cup game with freshness but it will be a long time before we go to Granada. Now we will rest for a couple of days. When you play well and don’t have a reward the team is a little down, which is the biggest concern that I have.”
The loss to Osasuna was an utter disappointment for Athletic. Next weekend the Lions will travel to Mendizorrotza for yet another Basque Derby with a chance to pick up an important three points against Alavés and hopefully put their winless streak to an end.