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Marcelino García Toral attended the media in the run-up to the final of the Spanish Super Cup that will pit Athletic against Real Madrid. The coach gives up favoritism to Real Madrid, but he trusts his chances and the way his team competed in the two league games against the Whites.

How did you get up today?

Normally. Today we get up, we come here with pleasure to represent Athletic and to prepare well for the match, to train in the afternoon and tomorrow to play with all the enthusiasm and ambition to try to be champions.

How is the squad physically and mentally?

Emotionally excellent. You come to play the Super Cup against three great clubs, I think we were capable of deservedly beating the league champion and mentally it is unbeatable. Physically we will see this afternoon, we will have a clearer feeling in case discomfort and fatigue appear. But in principle we do not have any player as a possible loss. There are blows, fatigue to beat a very important rival, but also the state of mind will overcome all that fatigue that we are going to have.

Real Madrid is very strong from the start.

Real Madrid have very powerful starts to the game. He showed it at the Santiago Bernabéu, where he subdued us for the first 25 minutes and penalized us terribly at San Mamés, scoring two goals in six minutes. He also scored for Barça in the initial period. There is no doubt that we have to be at a high level to try not to concede a goal. In a final, if Madrid is very powerful, where they only lost three out of 17, if we allow them to get ahead on the scoreboard they will greatly complicate the result. The matches last 90 minutes, we arrive with the energy to overcome adverse results, we will try not to do so, because it will be more difficult, but the matches last 90 minutes. We have to be at our highest level and that Madrid is not at our highest level for as long as possible.

They play four finals in a year.

It has incredible merit. Athletic, with the powerful teams that exist, have the opportunity to play four finals, even if one of them is delayed due to a pandemic, but three in one year I think is incredible and the fans have to be proud. Then, winning a final if you already arrive against the odds and then win it like against Barça is incredible. We’re going to try, the past doesn’t count either, the great game against Atlético allows us to play a final and we’re up against Madrid, the best team in the league in terms of results and play, but we’re a difficult team. Experience tells us that we are going to have options and success will be fundamental, we hope to have more than at the Santiago Bernabéu.

What changes between facing Madrid and Atlético?

We don’t change a lot of things on a general level as a team. Press high when the ball is in Courtois’ goal and withdraw when appropriate as a block, higher or lower. When it comes down to us we will try to suffer, we are not going to try to beat Madrid without suffering. When we have the ball, according to how they defend, they go to mid and low block more than before and they are very reliable at the back. We will have to attack judiciously. In both phases we have to be intelligent, in how we have to act and do it very quickly and organized.

Athletic Shield/Flag

If you can make a wish?

We have success and efficiency. It is our big problem this season. And that Madrid does not have it, that it is having it this season and has two footballers who do not stop scoring goals. If Benzema and Vinicius don’t have their day they will bring us closer to winning.

What worries you about Madrid?

He attacks very well, because he has players with good footing, a very powerful midfield with very good vision and precision, two decisive players at the top and Asensio, Rodrygo or Hazard are unbalanced footballers. At a conceptual and general level, Madrid uses the counterattack much more than previous seasons, and with more resources it produces more difficulties for the rival to counteract it.

Barcelona suffered a lot from Madrid’s counterattack.

We have two recent experiences, two games in one month. I think that this is the best reference, because Barça uses a different idea of ​​the game to ours. The counterattack is a weapon that Real Madrid possesses. In San Mamés we lost a ball in midfield and Madrid scored a goal, it happened to Barça the other day. You have to try to avoid it and be solvent. Madrid did not generate so much counterattack for us. We had orderly withdrawals and few losses, we will try to repeat it and be effective. The rival has almost magical solutions like in San Mamés, with the definition of Real Madrid or circumstances like in the Bernabéu, where a shot by Modric became a goal by Benzema. Football moves by details, as happened to us against Atlético, and that has to benefit us.

They have had less rest, is it a handicap?

I couldn’t tell you exactly. It is the same situation as last season. Barça had played extra time on Wednesday and we on Thursday against Madrid and we went to the final and played extra time. Without many changes we arrived well. I think we are in good shape physically and that mental power that gives you the victory, the good performance and the enthusiasm that we are going to put into that match and I think that it can equal us. We have 24 hours less, but Madrid also played a demanding extra time against Barça and it doesn’t matter, we can’t stop at that and we focus on trying to win.

They have Unai Simon as insurance in goal.

It also consists of the rest of the team letting Madrid shoot little, because if they shoot a lot… We like that the rival has few chances and in little advantageous situation. The more options we give Madrid to finish actions in advantageous situations, we are annoyed. We completely trust Unai, but Madrid have to be given few scoring chances.

They have strength on set pieces.

It is decisive in many close matches. We also fit in against Atlético de Madrid in corner strategy and we have to be more effective in that facet of the game. Barça accumulated a lot of people in lateral centers and their midfielders, plus the winger, more strikers… left difficulties to defend them. Our arguments are very different from Barça and for us our two games against Madrid in December are much more a reference than the Barça game.

How do you see the Williams brothers?

I hope they are, I would be delighted if they were decisive in beating Real Madrid. Iñaki has much more experience and Nico is showing up. When you appear you have the capacity for surprise, which is always important. We rely on the team and our strength is to demonstrate our potential as such. But it is clear that the brilliance of the individuals will be key to victory. I hope you have the best day.

It looks like a very united locker room.

It is different from everyone. I have always told the Bilbao journalists that what we coaches have to do is unite. In Athletic it is not to detach, quite the opposite. That tells you what the group is like. Many have known each other since they were children, teenagers, and then adults. They were coinciding with their families, making pineapple, with a feeling of rootedness. That also has difficulty when it comes to living with the obligation, but it is totally different. I am proud to coach this group.

It seems that the Spanish Super Cup is Athletic’s competition.

It is a short competition. It gives you this new format that has encouraged the competition. Before it was something for the big clubs, because Athletic doesn’t play Champions or competitions like that. Madrid, Barça or Atlético were uncomfortable, now this new format is more attractive, all the participants want to win, their line-ups show it and that is attractive. For Athletic it has to mean beating great teams, last year the best elevens in Madrid and Barça in three days is an extraordinary competitive strength. It is this same situation and there is no doubt that it would be a tremendous success to win again. Last season we eliminated them in the semis and let’s see if we have the same luck.

Xavi said that they did not compete well at the beginning because they came out with a complex. What is your state of mind?

The state of mind is a part of the game, but not the most decisive. In football, if it were for moods we could all win and there is individual talent, success, organization… I am one to make deeper analyzes than a single reason. Soccer is more complex. There is no doubt that if we have excessive respect it will be negative, the same as if there is excessive responsibility thinking that we have to win, because not doing so would be a disappointment. Finding the optimal state is important and we are going to try it. We can be in a more correct activation for this final than against Real Sociedad.

What does it mean that Athletic is competing against such teams?

An incredible merit. A different philosophy in this global football. Sometimes in Bilbao we forget this situation, the merit of the club, of these footballers for being able to compete at this level with great football transatlantic players. Three teams that normally reach the Champions League finals and even win them. It has supreme merit. The players earned being here on their own merits. We are finalists in the last two editions of the Cup and it gives us this opportunity and the club has to enjoy the moment. It’s true that when you get to a final and you don’t win it’s a disappointment, but deep down it has to be the fact that this club, different from the rest of the world in today’s football, is capable of reaching this type of match with this philosophy.

It’s a classic, but they haven’t faced Madrid in a final for more than 50 years.

You always dream and hope for the best. If I now thought of something other than not winning, I would not be on the right track. If the coach, his head tells him one thing, it is what he transmits and I have to be positive, optimistic and ambitious. This is how my footballers make me feel. We don’t have a different idea in mind than to win, we can’t think of anything else despite the great rival in front of us.

How did you see Yuri?

It’s fine. We already felt it in recent weeks and when he felt ready, we gave way to a good footballer. I can’t tell you if it’s ready for 90 minutes, but it’s much better than a week ago. It’s in good condition, I couldn’t tell you for how many minutes.