Dani García “We’re Aware Of What Is At Stake In The Remainder Of The Season”
Football has taken a backseat as Spain has gone into lockdown to combat the growing coronavirus pandemic. At this point it isn’t clear when the season will resume, if it even will, but players are working hard to stay in the best shape possible while at home. Athletic midfielder Dani García recently spoke with Radio Euskadi where he admitted that it’s been a truly unique experience.
“I’m handling it like everyone, with the uncertainty of what’s going to happen and hope that it will be solved as soon as possible. We’ve never experienced this. I’ve gone out twice for five minutes to make purchases and it seems like you leave home in fear and want to get back home quickly. It must be difficult for those who are at home with small children like Aduriz, San José, and Muniain. Those of us who don’t have any children can face it easier.”
Having barely left his home, García explained that he’s made a daily plan to stay busy and exercise as much as possible. It hasn’t been easy, but the club has actually supplied equipment for the players to use during the lockdown.
“My girlfriend is a teacher. On Monday they told her that she doesn’t have to come in so she works in the mornings. I get up and do the exercises that the club sent us. They’ve brought us machines from Lezama. I prepare the food, play the drums, exercise, make dinner, and then we watch TV. I have every day planned out and doing better than I thought. I’m cooking more than ever. I also have video calls with friends from Zumarraga and Cádiz.”
After what has been a very bust schedule over the past few months, the stoppage will give players some time to finally rest and recuperate. However, García also says that once the season does return teams must be careful not to overwork which could lead to injuries during a compressed campaign.
“I’m taking the opportunity to rest but this is more difficult for those who have to go to work. The only thing is uncertainty. You turn on the news and everything is going to get much worse. I don’t know if football should have stopped earlier. We all laughed at it until the moment of truth arrived. I’m following the recommendations strictly at home. When it returns there will have to be a vacation period at some point because playing out the rest of the season will take a lot on the body.”
The trainers at Lezama have given the players specific plans to follow at home, though it can never be the same as actually holding sessions. Everyone must individually work to ensure that they are ready when football returns, but losing proper football shape is a genuine concern.
“It will never replace what we do at Lezama. Keeping fit for a week isn’t noticeable but if it goes for as long as they say, maybe three or four weeks, anybody at this level will notice it. When we return I suppose we’ll do a mini-preseason for one or two weeks, maybe a match against Bilbao Athletic. I can ride a bike or run on the treadmill, but it’s not the same. We’re aware of what is at stake in the remainder of the season so everyone has to be responsible for what they are doing at home.”
At this point it’s impossible to predict when the season will actually resume. The most important thing is that no one at Athletic, players or otherwise, have tested positive for the coronavirus.
“The season will return when it returns. It’s a shame because we have stopped now when the most exciting things were happening, but the most important thing is that this is happening, that a cure is found as soon as possible. For now we don’t have any infected and that’s good.”
La Liga have already distributed test kits to all clubs even though some don’t agree with that decision. “They are going to send us to do the tests, but it doesn’t make sense to be tested without having symptoms,” said García. “The club will tell us what to do and keep us informed. When they tell us that we have to do them we have to follow the instructions.”
The most recent reports claim that La Liga could return by late April or early May, but there is still concern that the season may be forced to end. That’s not an option that García would be in favor of and says he’d be willing to play throughout the entire summer to end the campaign fairly.
“It doesn’t make sense to me to leave the season like this. It’s not right, not for us, but especially for the teams in the relegation zone. We must be generous. I think the season will be finished, hopefully before July as they are saying. If it goes until August then we will finish in August. It also doesn’t make sense to play the final behind closed doors. Everything is dragging on with the fans thinking about the final and that they might not be able to go. I prefer to play it in August or whenever it’s safe. Playing behind closed doors would be very cold and the fans wouldn’t be able to enjoy a final in Seville.”
Dani García has played more minutes than any Athletic player so far this season and has been vital to the team’s success. The time off will be good for the 29-year-old to recharge the batteries, although he’s clearly ready for the season to resume as soon as possible to get back on the field and help Athletic compete for a Copa del Rey title.