Gaizka Garitano “There’s No Better Calculation To Qualify For Europe Than To Win Against Sevilla”
Athletic have just four games left to climb into the top seven, but tomorrow night’s match will be the most difficult one. Sevilla will visit San Mamés with both teams in need of three points and not willing to settle for anything other than victory. Gaizka Garitano has thrown down the gauntlet and set the expectation for his players.
“We’re playing at home and it’s in our heads to continue fighting for Europe,” Garitano said during Wednesday’s press conference. “We will need multiple victories in these four remaining games. There’s no better calculation to qualify for Europe than to win against Sevilla. For the 10 days that we have left we must throw out everything we have.”
The Basques have scored first in almost every game since the season resumed and Garitano stressed that it will be important to do so again tomorrow night. Sevilla will be a difficult opponent and the manager admits getting a win will be far from easy.
“It’s important to score first in every game, but perhaps even more so in this one because we’re two teams that defend well and protect leads well. Sevilla are very well organized, with players who have quality and speed. They’re a difficult team to beat and they have great players who are doing well at the moment like Banega, Jordan, Nesyri, and Ocampos especially. They’re the team that runs the most in the league, a very complete squad, but we can make things difficult for them and beat them.”
Athletic have been in exceptional form over the past few weeks and have done well in recent games against Sevilla. The Lions have won nine straight league games at home against Sevilla and have the motivation to get another big result. “We’re convinced of what we do, but we must all go well-armed to war,” said Garitano. “We have more conviction than anyone in this league.”
Unfortunately, Athletic will be without Raúl García and Yeray. García is suspended for the match while Yeray has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a calf injury. Both will be big losses for Athletic, but Garitano has faith in those who will take their places in the lineup.
“As I say, when one is missing someone else comes in and I have full confidence in everyone. We have Sancet, Villalibre, and Kenan as options. I always feel optimistic because trust a lot in everyone in the squad. You have to think about a 100-minute game, how we’re going to start and how we’re going to finish. After an hour Sevilla will still have a very strong team with quality players so we will have to have players who can come on and contribute.”
The recent controversial loss to Real Madrid still stings, though Garitano made it clear that the team has already moved on. Complaining about VAR doesn’t solve anything now and the Lions can only focus on going out and taking three points against Sevilla.
“When you play every three or four days it doesn’t give you time to regret or enjoy. We correct mistakes and talk about what we did well, then it’s time to turn the page. What you have to do in this life is always ahead of you and the Real Madrid game is forgotten. The things that don’t depend on us aren’t worth talking about. There are no excuses. We must try to beat Sevilla, who haven’t lost in 11 games, and we can’t be distracted from what we have to do tomorrow at San Mamés.”
Before concluding the press conference reporters were sure to ask Garitano about the recent announcement that Mikel San José and Beñat would not be offered renewals for next season. “As a coach and part of the sporting management group, I made the decision that Mikel and Beñat wouldn’t continue here next season,” he answered.
The topic of Javi Martinez was then brought up following yesterday’s news that the midfielder would be leaving Bayern Munich this summer and that Athletic are in talks to bring him back to the club. “We’re thinking about Sevilla, not next year or anything else,” Garitano responded. “We’re only thinking about tomorrow’s game.”
A win over Sevilla could catapult Athletic all the way up to seventh with three games remaining, but the race for Europe will go down to the last day of the season. Points are now at a premium and a victory tomorrow night would take the Zurigorri one step closer to European football.