Gaizka Garitano “We Can’t Take Anything For Granted”
Athletic’s win over Eibar on Sunday couldn’t have come at a better time. Having had a two week break after the season opener loss to Granada, the Lions responded with a great performance at Ipurua and brought all three points back home to Bilbao. On Thursday night Athletic welcome Cadíz to San Mamés for the first home game and hope to pick up another important victory.
Gaizka Garitano addressed the media in a press conference on Wednesday, warning that Cadíz aren’t a team to be taken lightly. The newly promoted side has been strong to start the season despite the results.
“They know how they want to play and they played a good game against Sevilla, adapting very well to the Primera. I like what I’ve seen from Cadíz. They’ve been with their coach for years and they do things well. All their goals to start the season have come from counter attacks because they’re well positioned and organized. Negredo has scored more goals in his career than any of our players. We can’t take anything for granted.”
Athletic will treat Cadíz as a dangerous opponent at San Mamés, but the Lions have confidence to take all three points as well. Garitano praised his team’s attitude and once again highlighted competitiveness as one of Athletic’s keys to success.
“The team is always lively because we are very positive people. We always try to improve and the atmosphere in the dressing room is magnificent. After all the limitations we had we have to be positive. One of our strengths is that we compete well and are always positive. Winning helps you have more confidence, but this tea never lowers its head. At the level of working hard, competing, and being positive I don’t see any team better than this one.”
Questioned about young players taking on more important roles this season, Garitano emphasized the necessity of bringing through the next generation. Moving forward everyone will have chances to contribute.
“The idea is to have a group of players that push the starters and earn more and more minutes. They are all becoming more important. We have a season with many games and very overloaded months. We’re going to need everyone. They are all doing well and we’re delighted.”
Among the young players who have become more integral, Asier Villalibre was instrumental in the win over Eibar. “He was important in those 40 minutes until the end,” Garitano said about the 23-year-old. “He is growing and we are happy with him. It’s good that we can get that contribution from him.”
Garitano was asked about the potential signing of Alex Berenguer with reports claiming a deal is almost done. As expected, the manager refused to talk about the Torino winger by name.
“Our market is very difficult. This is a subject that I don’t deal with, I’m focused on Cadíz. We’ll see if something happens by 5 October. Regardless of what happens we will continue with our players to the death. I’m united with the club. I have given my technical points of view, but I will always go with what the club says. I must get the most out of the players that I have whether or not someone comes.”
Yeray, Peru Nolaskoain, Ibai Gómez, and Óscar de Marcos will miss Thursday’s match. The first three were already dealing with injuries while De Marcos left training with ankle soreness.
“Peru and Ibai are doing well, but still working alone. Peru and Yeray have injuries that aren’t serious and will return in a couple of weeks. In 15 days they may be available, we hope after the break.”
Despite just playing over the weekend Garitano hinted that there wouldn’t be any changes to the lineup. “We have had time from Sunday to Thursday, but we don’t have time until the next game.” The manager will go with everything for three points at home.
San Mamés has always been a fortress for Athletic, but it’s not the same without fans in attendance. “We miss our fans a lot,” said Garitano. “We dream of seeing San Mamés filled with people again.” Even though Thursday’s game will be played behind closed door, Athletic intend to come away with a big win and give the supporters reason to celebrate.