Gaizka Garitano “We Want To See An Athletic That Is Competitive”
Athletic football finally returns tomorrow. The Lions visit Granada on Saturday for the opening game of the La Liga season with the intention of bringing all three points back home to Bilbao. It will be far from a simple match, but Gaizka Garitano’s side wants to get off to a strong start. Once again, qualifying for Europe will be the top goal for the Basque giants.
“We know each other well,” Garitano said about Osasuna during Friday’s press conference. “But we have tactical variants and can use different options in the same game. In the four games we played against them last season we both used different systems. We are prepared because Granada did very well last season. They were the best team in the Primera from set pieces.”
During the preseason a number of young players took the spotlight. Garitano confirmed that at least one player will make his first team debut against Granada and hinted that it could be Jon Morcillo.
“Morcillo has overflow, verticality, and a strong shot. He’s a player who specialized in taking free kicks and corners, which is something we have lacked. He gives us those things, those set pieces, and comes to contribute to the attack as well.”
Garitano also touched on Iñaki Williams who missed most of the preseason after testing positive for COVID-19. “He has to score more goals, of course,” said the manager. “He has the obligation to score more goals and he knows it. He’s going to work for it because he has to assume that responsibility, especially now that Aduriz is gone. The first thing is that he gets to his best form quickly because when that happens he will do well. All of the players who missed time need to recover the sensations.”
Following a truncated preseason, every team will be lacking rhythm and consistency to start the new campaign. Garitano affirms that there are areas that still need to be improved, but believes that Athletic’s competitiveness will continue to give the team an advantage.
“We always try to improve what we are doing. We want to see an Athletic that is competitive and always close to winning games. By polishing some things we can do better. We have the basis, but we have to improve. We are working on things because we want to and need to improve. This season we will play in the league, Cup, Super Cup, and we can’t forget the Cup final.”
Athletic’s trip to Granada will be more important that most season openers. Following the game, the Zurigorri will have a two week break until the next fixture. It’s important that Athletic pick up points to start to season to avoid falling behind early on. A victory at Los Cármenes would be the perfect way to put last year’s failures in the past and look ahead to a new challenge.