Mikel Vesga “We Will Go For The Game As We’ve Always Done”
The past few months have been a whirlwind for Mikel Vesga. At the beginning of the season he wasn’t in the picture and rarely saw the field, but Gaizka Garitano’s switch to a 5-3-2 formation has not only seen Vesga with more opportunities, the midfielder has become a regular starter. Tonight, Vesga is expected to be in the lineup for Athletic’s Cup semifinal second leg against Granada and he’s very excited about the opportunity.
“Being able to participate in this makes it even more special,” said Vesga in an interview with Juanma Velasco of Marca. “I’m lucky to experience something like this with this club. The truth is that we are trying to face it as normally as possible, but it’s also true that these matches are different from other weeks. We’re very eager for the match.”
Athletic hold a 1-0 lead after winning the first leg at San Mamés, but the team has no plans to just try to protect that advantage. The Lions want to score more goals to kill the tie and book their place in the final.
“If you bet on the result from the first leg it can be dangerous. We will go for the game as we’ve always done. That’s the idea. Granada are tough and will make it difficult for us, but during this Cup every game has had difficult phases. In that aspect we have been prepared. We’re going to find things very complicated against Granada because of the type of opponent they are and because of what this tie means.”
Vesga is wary of Granada who will be playing arguably the biggest game in the history of the club. “Granada are a team in good form and will demand our best level to be able to move on to the final,” Vesga said. “We know this is also a big match for them and we are going to go with everything we have. We will give 120% to reach the final.”
Coming off of a much-needed win over Villarreal the Basques have plenty of confidence going into tonight’s match. Athletic have played their best football as of late in Cup matches, though Vesga says the team must also try to improve their league campaign.
“The win the other day was something we needed, and more so at San Mamés. It seems that the best version of Athletic has been seen in the Cup, but we have also played great games in La Liga even if we haven’t had the results. The season doesn’t end here because there is still time in the league to get into the top positions. In the first leg against Granada we played a great game and we have the plan of repeating it.”
Unfortunately, Athletic will be without Dani García who will be serving a one-game suspension while Granada striker Roberto Soldado will also miss out. “Both are very important players for each team,” Vesga admitted. “In our case, Dani’s absence is very big because he’s a player who contributes a lot on the field and off. I think our loss is more important.”
Athletic’s impressive Cup run has fans excited and rightfully so. The Zurigorri are just 90 minutes away from reaching the first final in five years and the chance to win the first Copa del Rey title since 1984. “It’s a great opportunity because of all the excitement it’s generated, because we are close to winning a title, and because we would have the opportunity to play in Europe. We will fight for it.”
If Athletic do eliminate Granada tonight the Lions would move on to the final where they would meet rivals Real Sociedad. Athletic have dreamed all season of lifting the title and taking out La Gabarra for the first time in over three decades. Facing Real Sociedad at La Cartuja would be a historic game, but first Athletic must deal with Granada.