Óscar De Marcos “It’s A Very Important Game For Us If We Want To Reach Europe”
Óscar De Marcos made his long awaited return on Sunday in Athletic’s 1-1 draw against Atlético Madrid. The versatile veteran was forced to undergo ankle surgery back in December and was in danger of missing the rest of the season, the pandemic allowed him to make a full recovery in time for the final stretch. Being back on the field after eight months was a relief.
“I was comfortable but a little nervous because I hadn’t been on a field or played for a long time,” De Marcos told Cadena Ser. “I always think about the good. I’m happy and the bad is simply lived with and learned from. The bad is soon forgotten because you have to leave it behind.”
Because of the football stoppage De Marcos admits that it didn’t feel as though he was out for as long as he was. Ultimately, he’s just happy to play again and that the health crisis has improved enough for the season to resume.
“It’s been a long time. It’s been eight months but it’s true that it feels shorter than eight months. We were at home for three, but I’m already with the group again which is positive because personally I’ve been able to return and the situation of the coronavirus is somewhat fixed. That’s the most important thing.”
When De Marcos came on for Iker Muniain in the second half he was given the captain’s armband. Wearing it is always a source of pride.
“Being with my teammates again makes me happy. The honor of being captain is another thing and it means that I have been here for a long time and that I’m privileged to be able to represent Athletic.”
Football is different right now given the heath crisis. With the schedules more compact coaches are able to make more substitutions, but even the feeling on the field isn’t the same.
“It was very different. Society has changed in this time and football has changed a lot too. Basically, you want to change with the competition and this is how we’re going to do it this month. It will be a very intense month. These first weeks, these first two weeks, are the ones that are going to set the goal.”
As expected, De Marcos said that even on the bench he could heard everything on the field. It’s an added dimension that players have to deal with at the moment.
“We heard applause. For those of us who were on the bench, an empty San Mamés is very impressive. Being a league match, with that intensity, only with the players on the field and those of us on the sidelines we could hear everything.”
As a whole De Marcos says that Athletic went for the win from the first minute of the game. Had the stadium been open he’s confident they could have come away with all three points.
“The game was dealt with in a very serious way. In the first half we were very good. What I saw on the field was an Athletic that competed very well. In those minutes when we had to defend, having the fans surely would have made it the other way around. We have to get used to it and live with it.”
Ultimately, the 31-year-old is satisfied with the result. Getting a point against Atlético is never easy, especially given all of the circumstances.
“The result was fair, yes, because Atlético is an important rival. The feelings were good and I think it’s already been seen that in these days it’s difficult to win. The distance we had from seventh wasn’t extended, but in general al the teams in that area had complicated matches. Let’s see how the forces hold up. I think that playing every three days will show our quality.”
Athletic have no time to dwell on the draw. The Zurigorri will travel to Eibar on Wednesday knowing they will face another major challenge. Eibar may have lost to Real Madrid one the weekend, but De Marcos isn’t letting his guard down.
“I saw an Eibar with rhythm. This game is in their heads, they have it between their eyebrows. We have to put ourselves up to it in that sense. We have to know that it’s a very important game for us if we want to reach Europe. We have to go for it.”
Without fans at Ipurua it’s safe to say that Athletic will likely be the favorites on Wednesday. However, Gaizka Garitano will have some big decisions to make as far as rotating the team and finding the right balance. Athletic need to come away with all three points to stay in the race for Europe.