Gaizka Garitano “They Could Have Called A Penalty In Our Favor Too”
Gaizka Garitano has never been one to criticize referees. Even when calls have gone against Athletic the manager has refused to comment on the decisions and prefers to look ahead to the next game. That wasn’t the case on Sunday. Athletic fell 1-0 to Real Madrid who were awarded a penalty, but when Sergio Ramos stamped on Raúl García’s ankle in the box VAR didn’t even review the play.
“We lost 1-0 on penalties and they could have called a penalty in our favor too,” Garitano told reporters. “VAR has a lot to improve. I have always said that it helps, but when it’s against you then you have to be mad. I’ve always said that I like it so I’m not going to say the opposite today. Complaining isn’t going to solve anything. The game is over and now we have to prepare for the next one.”
Athletic put in a great performance at San Mamés and deserved something from the match. Garitano admits the result could have gone either way.
“Real Madrid were better than us, but the last half hour of the first half we were better. In the second half nothing was happening in the areas. The game was very even and we knew that it would be decided by a small detail. If could have gone the other way around. We’re a good team but it’s difficult to score against them.”
If not for the penalty Athletic were on the way to picking up a clean sheet against Real Madrid. Facing a team which such quality, Garitano can only be happy with the performance.
“Holding Real Madrid without scoring requires a very good performance. They’re one of the best teams in the world and their fifth substitution was bringing on Kroos. We made changes early because otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to keep up the pace. It’s logical to end the game exhausted.”
The Lions have no time to dwell on the loss. Athletic will host Sevilla at San Mamés on Thursday night in what will be a must-win game. “To qualify for Europe we have to win a lot and get most of those 12 remaining points,” said Garitano. “We’re going to need a lot of points.”
Garitano was also asked about the status of Yeray who had to leave the game after just 20 minutes after sustaining a calf injury. “I’ve spoken with the doctors and it doesn’t look good,” he answered. Further tests will be performed but if Yeray isn’t cleared to play then Unai Núñez will take his place in the starting lineup.