Gaizka Garitano “We Know That We’re Competitive”
Athletic’s season got off to a bad start two weeks ago when the Lions fell 2-0 to Granada. On Sunday, everything went much better. Unai López scored a brace to give Athletic a 2-1 win over Eibar in what was an impressive performance at Ipurua. The team needed the victory to start climbing the table, but Gaizka Garitano knows it’s just the start of a long road ahead.
“We know that we have won an important game but we haven’t accomplished anything,” Garitano said after the match. “You always need to win games and for some clubs more than others. Athletic is one of those clubs.”
Garitano emphasized that they team didn’t panic after the loss to Granada. The defeat was disappointing, but the Lions used it to improve. Athletic won’t relax following Sunday’s win, knowing that it’s just another opportunity to get better.
“These are three points and nothing more. We have to continue working. In football when it’s said that everything is very bad we know that it’s not true and if you do things well we know you have to improve. We know the responsibility we have. When you don’t win things are colder. Things aren’t so black when you lose and not so good when you win. We always see it from the perspective that we must continue to improve. We aren’t catastrophic and we know that we’re competitive.”
Ultimately, the win came down to execution. “We did what we had to do, finishing chances and defending very well,” said the Mister. “Our goalkeeper hasn’t touched the ball. We had 60% possession against Granada and lost. Here at Ipurua we did what we had to do.”
Taking off Jon Morcillo in the 52nd minute was an odd decision from Garitano, but the introduction of Asier Villalibre made a noticeable difference. The manager was pleased with the team’s performance as a whole, especially those who came on in the second half.
“There are players who make an impact when they come on as a substitute and give good performances. Villalibre is one of those who changes games. He comes on with that hunger to generate chances and it goes well. Sancet was also involved in the play for the second goal, but everyone contributes and those who started the game did a good job. It was great work from Muni, Williams, everyone.”
Garitano also touched on the performance of Unai Núñez who started in place Yeray. A mistake from the defender led to Eibar’s goal, but the Mister didn’t dwell on the play. “He played very well the rest of the game,” Garitano pointed out.
Unai López scored both of Athletic’s goals and was a major topic of conversations after the game. Garitano admitted that the midfielders need to contribute more goals this season and was happy with López’s game.
“He is one of the players that had short preseason because of the coronavirus. He didn’t play in Granada. We’ve said that we need more goals from that 8 position, maybe five or six a year. That trickle of goals has to come from that position along with creation. Unai did very well.”
Athletic moved up to 14th in the La Liga table following the win over Eibar. On Thursday the Zurigorri host Cadíz in the first home game of the season with a chance to secure three more points and continue climbing.